4 June 2018

Newsletter BORDERLINESICILIA – May 2018

  • The consequences of the Libya-Italy deal beyond the sea
  • Libya: one country, two stories
  • When emergencies become daily news
  • The importance of good practices



Between Sunday 6th and Tuesday 8th May 2018, 105 rescued people on board the Astral – a vessel waving the British flag – belonging to the NGO ‘Proactiva OpenArms’, were left blocked in the Mediterranean while awaiting authorisation for transfer and indication of a port of safety. The slow reaction of MRCCs in both Rome and London, and their lack of coordination, took its toll on the survivors, who remained at sea for three days after being rescued, while their health and hygiene situation worsened. The malfunctioning of the coordination of sea rescues which we continue to see is the result of border externalisation policies designed to reduce the arrival of migrants in Italy and Europe. This has coincided wiht an increase in the number of deaths at sea in the Mediterranean this year and insecurity in the rescue operations. In Italy itself a “migrant manhunt” has begun, people who – given the collapse in the number of arrivals – are now becoming “wanted goods” and a source earnings for institutions and cooperatives who have constructed a business on the back of immigration.

https://www.borderlinesicilia.org/en/after-three-days-of-bureaucratic-stalling/ https://www.borderlinesicilia.org/en/build-walls-and-make-money/



On the last weekend of May, 2,500 people were landed on the Sicilian coast, more people than have landed for some time. Having passed through Libya and rescued at sea, the migrants arrived in a disastrous state of health and psychology: yet again they bore signs of torture, mutilation and an increased frequency of serious malnutrition. The witness accounts collected over the last few years and even the last few days put to lie the image of Libya which the authorities are attempting to depict for ‘civil society’, such as at the conference on May 21st held in the Ortygia Business School in Syracuse. The lies told about the situation in Libya represent another sign of how these people matter little to politics: when they are in Libya, they are simply numbers to be decreased to stop the “invasion”, and in Italy are invadors, further numbers to be controlled and categorised, people to be discriminated according to their nationality as soon as they reach Italian shores.





Despite the phenomenon being well-known and all of its workings well-established, every year farm labour produces “emergencies” for which the authorities are entirely unprepared. A kind of shanty town exists on private land in the area of Cassibile (Syracuse) for migrants engaged in seasonal work in the surrounding countryside. The 79 “residents” – all adults, the majority African and holding a regular permit to stay – live in the worst of sanitary conditions. Despite the authorities having taken note of the situation, finding a dignified housing solution that might even minimally change the situation which has formed over the years, seems a far-off dream. Indeed as time passes, situations such as this are simply becoming normalised, to the extent that we no longer become angry about them, numb to inhumanity and violence.






In an increasingly inhumane reception system and an increasingly climate of racism and intolerance, it is important to give credit to those parts of society that are distinguished as examples of good reception and an open society. The ‘Obioma’ centre for women and families with mental disabilities at Canicattini Bagni, managed by the “Passwork” cooperative, runs a project of introduction to work that, along with the normal running of services within the centre, encourages the beneficiaries to free themselves and discover their independence.




Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude

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