It’s the afternoon of the 9th of October. About fifty young Eritreans demonstrate for two hours peacefully in the streets of Lampedusa, in search for clearness. They want better conditions. Responsible persons are at a loss.
The teenagers refuse to leave their fingerprints in the reception centre. They shout: „No Fingerprint“. They want to be heard: „Al Jazeera: contact us“. And again and again: „This is not Freedom“. Plenty of them are already since more than one week on Lampedusa. They group had left the reception centre probably by emerging through a hole in the fence, as a mediator of the centre assumes. The inhabitants are not allowed to leave the centre at the moment – the main effects of the militarization on Lampedusa are seen on the centre, that turns more and more into a prison. There is uncertainty about what happens inside the walls of the centre, that is just about becoming a Hotspot. All the communication, that currently is sent by the centre, is quite un-transparent. The reason for this is very likely the contract between the operators of the centre and the Italian government. This contract expired on October 2nd.
What exactly is about to change? What has already changed? The demonstrating group complained the other day about injuries and blamed the centre’s staff. During the last days we saw mattresses in the inner courtyard, that suggest the assumption, that the centre hosts more people than it could sustain. I talked to refugees, who are by this time located in the centre for ten days.
Many rumours and a few facts
Currently many assumptions and rumours go round. What we can say for sure is that there are at the moment much more refugees in the centre than allowed and that they have to stay there longer than scheduled.
That results from official documents of the responsible district Agrigento. The regularies and instructions can be very easily looked at on the website of the Italian ministry of the Interior. Here a capacity for 250 persons is named – solely the sample of the 410 refugees, that we called welcome three days before in the harbour, shows clearly an overrun of the capacities. The documents show furthermore clarifies that a stay of 48 hours should be the rule and that 30 Euros – per head, per day – are paid to the operators of the centre by the government. In the case of 250 refugees that means 15.000 Euros. Let us assume the 410 refugees from Tuesday would stay for then days, that would promise an amount 123.000 Euros. So the reticence of the operators of the centre is among the accusation of violating several rights as well due to economic reasons.
Helplessness and language barriers
But the vagueness and helplessness doesn’t spare diverse parties, too: A police patrol car follows the group. The refugees have escaped – but is it legal anyway to lock them in? The police make no move to bring them back to the centre and during the procedure the officers only intervene when bystanders try to film the happening.
Furthermore communication between the centre staff and refugees seems to be a huge problem: An associate of Save The Children tells us about him and a mediator being the only persons within the centre talking Tigrinya. The bigger part of the mostly underage group, that tried get a hearing in the streets, speaks according to the associate only Tigrinya; the official language of Eritrea.
But also today they are not heard. They sit down on the sprawling steps of San Gerlando Platz and wait in front of the church. After half an hour of waiting they start back.T