The real emergency

Do., 19 Juni 2014

An emergency is, by definition, is an unforeseen circumstance. It’s for this reason that, in the event of an emergency, you tend to react with makeshift and improvised arrangements, but if the emergency continues, it becomes a structural condition: improvised means not only they will not be enough, but they will also be useless and wasteful in terms of time, energy and money. If, hopefully, the emergency ends, next time-if anything were to happen- we should know how to act in a less improvised and more efficient.
The reasoning seems logical, but maybe not for everyone, at least, not for the (Italian) Government with regard to the reception of foreign people arriving in our country.

 NGO’s and Association have been asking the Government for a long time to define a precise, structured and coordinated reception plan at the national level, focusing, despite all its lacks, on the Sprar system (Protection Service of Asylum Seekers): the basic idea is to provide a widespread receipt in small centers on the whole national territory, with low impact on the territories and on refugees, in order to have the chance to work on an effective inclusion.

Utopia? Not, if done on time, without waiting for the situation to become unmanageable.

 The continual arrivals of immigrants on the south coasts is the most evident aspect, exploited not only by the media, but also by the Italian institutions in order to have more money to counteract departures from the African coasts, rather than to improve the reception .Mayors have started to invoke the intervention of the national government and associations have started to provide guidance. But little has been done: people come and continue to be literally crammed into makeshift structures or in hotels, where they are left without any assistance or they are transported as parcels from one city to another, and left there. This is what happened in Rogoredo, or in Milan, where in the last days about 500 people, mostly from Syria, slept in the train stations Centrale and Porta Garibaldi.

The same thing happened in Rome, where few days ago, about 170 people were literally downloaded from a bus and left in the station Anagnina, „barefoot, without food or water,“ as reported by UNHCR . Even the people who arrived in Milan and Rogoredo came with the buses, organized by the Prefecture of Taranto. Obviously, given the situation, it is simpler to pour the question from one area to another without any desire to provide right solutions.

 Twelve mayors of the province of Ragusa (Sicily) have signed an appeal to the Home Office Minister Angelino Alfano: „We are no longer able to face completely alone the weight of an unprecedented emergency, despite the historic and well-established culture of reception that has made our region a model. Means are needed, especially men and economic resources. “ So far in the town of Ragusa have been assisted „more than 11 000 migrants, more than double compared to what happened in the end of 2013.“
Health warning is another issue. The mayor of Rome Ignazio Marino, in a letter to the ministers Angelino Alfano (Home Office) and Beatrice Lorenzin (Health) expresses his concern for the „health and hygiene“ and the lack of checks and care for the immigrants who are arriving in Italy and to the capital, suggesting to create First Aid Posts to provide a first medical screening, which may, on one hand, reassure immigrants about their health conditions and, on the other hand, reassure the community that receives them.
The health warning has often been used by political parties and the mass media in a deceptive way, it is, however, undeniable that some problems may arise with the arrival of many people who, after exhausting trips on the edge of survival, are crammed into totally unsuitable places, overcrowded and lacking the most basic hygienic conditions.The deep institutional weaknesses are evident when it comes to the very first landings: 200 people in a train can’t be unnoticed.

 But many people crammed in a CARA (Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers) can be not so evident. People who, as the name of the centre suggests, have made application for international protection. While waiting for an answer from the Commission they are transferred to Cara. Theoretically, they should receive appropriate assistance: cultural mediators, interpreters, lawyers, language courses, training etc.. Practically, CARA are constantly overcrowded and their conditions unworthy. How could it be otherwise?
The goal of these structures is not in a long-term perspective of inclusion, their aim is to contain at the lowest price. No matter if, to do so, you have to cut out everything from the quality of the food, personal services, hygiene, etc.
And that’s the reason why the asylum seekers of the CARA in Castelnuovo di Porto, near Rome started a protest some days ago blocking the street Tiberina, a further one, just after some weeks since the protest of the last month violently repressed by the police, whose action had sent four people to the hospital.

All these situations have one common aspect: the feeling of neglect. The mayors say they are abandoned by the institutions and migrants too.
On the 10th of June the Parliament has rejected a number of important articles of the European Delegation Law 2013-bis, which regulates the delegation criteria to the Government on the reception of asylum seekers. The reason? The lack of funding, although, as noted by the ASGI (Association on Juridical studies on Immigration), „the gathering of financial resources to manage the system of protection for asylum seekers and refugees is a legal obligation for the Member States“
A dangerous setback, as reported by the association, considering that the reform of the asylum system it is urgent and necessary.
What happened in the Parliament is serious: a well – framed system is possible and right in order to improve the situations of the Italian and foreign citizens, its lack has high human costs and economic impacts on people and on those who should receive them.

This is the real emergency.

Text adapted from

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