From one hell to another: escaped from Nigeria and locked away in the Ponte Galeria CIE
There are 66 Nigerian women who escaped from hell, having fled from Boko Haram’s violence, only to find themselves locked away in the biggest Italian immigration detention center, where they are currently threatened with deportation. They arrived in Italy at the end of July in terrible psychological and physical condition, but, despite evidently being victims of torture and human trafficking, they were not even informed that they had a right to apply for asylum.
Instead, they were immediately brought to the infamous Ponte Galeria center for identification and expulsion (CIE). They carry on their bodies the scars of the violence they have been subjected to, and yet they have not been afforded the protection they are entitled to; quite the opposite, they have been further traumatized by being locked away, without any explanation, in the Ponte Galeria "prison."
By now, they have been administratively detained for six weeks. Four of them were finally released and afforded humanitarian protection on September 3, and a further dozen have just received permission to stay. The majority of them are in a very dire situation, waiting to know what the ultimate results of their asylum applications will be while still being exposed to the possibility of being deported back to Nigeria.
LasciateCIEntrare’s intervention: seeking the attention of the UN special rapporteur on human trafficking
The Nigerian women detained in the Ponte Galeria CIE have not been left alone. Immediately after being brought to the immigration detention center, staffers of the Italian NGO Be Free – a social cooperative that aids victims of human trafficking, violence and discrimination – reached out to the women. This NGO was the first to denounced their inhumane treatment.
In August, activists from LasciateCIEntrare (which can be roughly translated as “Let us access the CIE”) – a campaign against the administrative detention of migrants – stepped in and met the Nigerian women during two authorized meeting in Ponte Galeria (a request for a third visit has been denied). These two organizations are now seeking to bring the case to the attention of the UN special rapporteur on human trafficking, in order to do everything possible to prevent the deportation of the Nigerian women and grant them the safe haven they are entitled to.