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The largest centers for asylum seekers in Europe is officially closed

Opened in 2011, the camp near Mineo (Sicily) was one of the largest centers for asylum seekers in Europe. The structure, that extends over 60 thousand square meters of surface, hosted migrants waiting for the assessments of asylum applications, often for months and years. At the time of maximum flow (it was July 7, 2014), the camp homed more than 4,173 people, but this number declined to 2,526 in 2018 and 1244 in 2019, because of the Italian government’s tough policy on immigrants.
Thus, on July 9the camp has been officially closed. The Italian Minister of Interior had ordered the closure of the center in January2019 andhad begun the evacuation of the camp at the beginning of February 2019. The number of asylum seekers present in the camp at in June 2019was 152 people and in the first days of July, the last group of68 asylum seekers left the camp. People have been transferred to CAS, “Centri di accoglienzastraordinaria” (Emergency Reception Centres), which, nevertheless, are designed only for the first accommodation phase until the transfer of asylum seekers to a reception centre. This choice further endorses a temporary and precarious approach to reception for asylum seekers.
As reported, for example, by Meltingpot.org, since the opening of the camp in 2011, the anti-racist network in Catania, together with Sicilian and national networks, has carried out a constant monitoring activity, denouncing on several occasions violations of minimum reception standards and the business system behind the structure, then uncovered by numerous judicial inquiries.Therefore, the main concern does not relate to the closure of this system itself, but to the procedure followed to dismantle it(with people transferred without the necessary care and assistance) and tothe structural absence of alternatives.

PhD Marina D'Odorico
ISMU Foundation