16-22 July 2023


Transfers from Lampedusa by the military ship Cassiopea. The transfers began at 12 noon and the ship left at 4 p.m. The people were exposed to the sun with only thermal blankets for protection. During the operation there were several cases of sickness/ fainting.

Last week a considerable number of people arrived in Lampedusa mostly from the Tunisian coast. The massive arrivals and the difficulty of managing it all as a logistic problem have shown how the hotspot is a systemic flaw, revealing its intent of mere management and containment of non-white and undocumented people.

The transfers from the island with the ferry to Porto Empedocle, and with the military ship "Cassiopea", with the new Guardia di Finanza ship, "OSUM", and with the Coast Guard ship "Dattilo" are not sufficient to balance the number of arrivals and departures; on Thursday 20 July approximately 4,000 people were inside the hotspot. Direct testimonies inform us of an extremely precarious situation due to the limits of the structure itself: the Red Cross is no longer able to guarantee a change of clothes for all, water is not sufficient or its constant distribution cannot be guaranteed, the large number of people in such a limited space makes it structurally impossible to guarantee cleaning. Many people do not have a space or a cot to sleep, and in some cases even the shade under the trees is not enough to provide some shelter from the waves of sultriness that are affecting the island, like other areas in Italy and the Mediterranean, in an increasingly worrying way.

Photos from inside the hotspot, where thousands of people are trying to find a place at least in the shade of the trees to shelter from the hellish heat.

Although journalists' cameras remain pointed at the Favaloro pier - for arrivals, pictures of which are still being sold - and the commercial pier - for transfers - the situation inside the hotspot is extremely critical. In addition to the logistical and material criticalities, the hotspot is plagued by constant tensions between people and between groups. In this context, without the possibility of leaving, about 400 persons declared minors have been living inside this detention facility for more than 20 days now. In this scenario, the evident impossibility of guaranteeing non-promiscuity spaces (for women and minors, for example) inside the facility also emerges strongly.

The narrative of the effectiveness of the Hotspot system at the beginning of June has completely crumbled; despite the new, super-funded management of the Red Cross, the dynamics of these days show how the constraint and control applied to the migration projects of people can only be inadequate and violent. In this situation of overcrowding and strong coercion, there is no longer any room for basic legal information to newly arrived people. What remains is the quintessence of a mechanism designed to control and manage, even beyond the limits of decency.

How can 4000 people remain in an enclosed space of a few square kilometres if not in a racist power structure, in which a hierarchy of unequal lives is affirmed?

Over the past few days, several people imprisoned inside the hotspot have managed to get out and roam the streets of the town; in response, the method of control that has taken shape, as now in various cities in Europe, has been that of racial profiling: policemen, guardia di finanza and carabinieri have forced Tunisian or black people back into the hotspot without any public order problems or offences committed.

Three young pre-identified boys in the hotspot were stopped by the Guardia di Finanza because they were wandering the streets of the village to buy something to drink and eat other than what was offered in the centre.

Meanwhile, in parallel, the government's attempt to move the 'Lampedusa problem' to Sicily, while not acting efficiently enough to relieve Lampedusa, is in fact transferring many procedures and problems to the island of Trinacria.

If the anguish of making the transfer system efficient, an attempt that continues to fail, also seems to make any kind of care or in-depth assessment of the status of each individual impossible - often with radical violations of the rights of asylum seekers, separation of relatives, abandonment of minors - on the other hand within the chaos it seems possible to glimpse the tenacity of the creativity of people on the move.

After that of 2 July, on 18 July another protest took shape in Caltanissetta, among the people 'guests' at the CARA (Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers) in Pian del Lago. The (peaceful) demonstration started from the centre and reached the Prefecture of Caltanissetta, where a delegation of asylum seekers were able to speak with some policemen.

Among the reasons for the protest were the unacceptable hygienic conditions inside the centre, the lack of medical assistance, the poor quality of the food and the non-distribution of pocket money. Many people also demanded that they be given the opportunity to learn the Italian language.

Not so different from what has been denounced by other people in contact with Maldusa and 'guests' at the Reggio Calabria hotspot: a protest has been ignited there too, against the conditions in which they are forced to live, in which even food and water are scarce.

As Maldusa, we want to continue to be present on the ground in order to amplify the voices of those who protest against a system of arbitrary detention, coercion, and control, in which not only the wishes, interests, and wills of the people on the move, but also the so-called basic human rights are constantly ignored or denied.

We commit ourselves, in parallel, to highlight all those forms of resistance from below that oppose the racist European system of border management, exclusion and victimisation, to fight together for freedom of movement for all!