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Specialized Reception Centres: the Case of Palermo

Specialized Reception Centres: the Case of Palermo

Alberto Biondo did a monitoring activity in Specialized Centres in the province and in the capital city on behalf of the Association:” asylum seekers are thwarted by bureaucracy. The reception system has neither head nor tail and it is created just in order to force people to stay in limbo”.

Specialized Centres of reception are more than 10 in Palermo and in its province. They were built to compensate for the absence of places in the ordinary facilities and in services that municipalities created in case of necessity. Today, even if this is their name, they are fully fledged and they are  part of the ordinary system of reception of asylum seekers. In the Sicilian capital city, according to the data collected by the association “Borderline”, the immigrants that are hosted into these facilities are between 450 and 500. Inside Specialized Reception Centres are principally hosted those migrants that lodge an appeal against the rejection of requests:” most part of them are African citizens who come from Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal but some of them are also from Bangladesh. They are asylum seekers who made requests, that were not accepted before the hotspot system become effective, so now they are in perpetual waiting status in the centre”. This is what the interviewer for Medionews says, after visiting some of these centres during the monitoring activities. Most of them are situated in the Municipality of province: Geraci Siculo, San Giuseppe Jato, Isnello and Piana degli Albanesi.

Biondo says that “the work of Borderline is neither with head nor with tale and was created just to force people to stay in limbo and make them invisible. It is this invisibility that gives the possibility to many people to make money out of immigrants in very bad ways: those who force immigrants to hard work, Mafia that uses them for manpower and for prostitution both of boys and girls”. What is the main problem? “We have to face the frustration of these boys because of the long term fulfilments of bureaucracy. It is not possible that a document that bureaucracy can create in two months is instead created with procedures of two- three years. Many of the immigrants have been and still are in these centres of Palermo. Some of them arrived in 2013 or in 2014 and they are still there. A person that needs to work and to send money to his family in another country cannot be forced to stay there for months or years”.

The specialized Reception Centres are hosted by good facilities but they are often far from the cities and this is a very big problem according to Biondo: “it is not possible that there are centres in areas that are far from the city and that are not linked with it, because it becomes very difficult to access them. Prefecture explains that the reason of this choice is that immigrants can be less at risk because in many areas they can enter into contact with not healthy ambiences. In isolated places is more difficult to create social training and there are a lot of logistic problems to access the offices and services”. The problem of territory is not the only one that was created by the writing of the announcements that must be rechecked. “There are professional positions that must be working constantly in the Centre, while in the announcements of Prefecture is not specified that their presence must be constant. Sometimes they write that their presence is needed just for a few hours a week”.

How we can solve this problem? Biondo has a perfect solution:” the announcements must be rechecked according to people real needs. Professional figures are essential in the facilities like psychologists, legal operators, cultural and linguistic mediators and their presence must be constant. The operator cannot be responsible for the tranquillity in the centre. Cultural mediators are often missing and it is important therefore to make their presence constant and not just when their support is needed by people of every nationality inside the centre”. As Biondo explains, “major problems are linguistic and cultural communication. In the end, it is also important not to crowd these centres. 20 people are too much, while in some cases we have 80 people in the same centre”.

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