A man from sub-Saharan Africa was killed in a fire in the Sicilian town of Castelvetrano. The fire broke out in a migrant camp inside a former concrete plant. The property had been occupied for years by foreigners who came to the area to harvest the olives.
The fire is said to have started accidentally late Wednesday evening (September 29). He destroyed the migrant camp inside a former concrete plant in Castelvetrano, on the outskirts of the town of Campobello di Mazara. The migrants stayed in the establishment in tents and shelters made of cardboard, fiber cement and wood.
Several firefighters were needed to extinguish the fire. The flames also severely damaged nearby abandoned warehouses and two vehicles.
Firefighters found the body of a man believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa in the camp.
Migrants: “We need housing”
The rest of the camp residents were able to escape the blaze, but their shelters were destroyed and they had to spend the night in the streets.
Thursday morning, a group of around 50 migrants from the camp protested by blocking a provincial road. The migrants set up wooden poles and nets in the middle of the road.
“We are asking for decent housing,” the protesters said. “They must understand that we have value, because without us the olives would not be harvested. We are all brothers, those who have a residence permit and those who do not.”
A self-managed migrant village
The old concrete factory closed in 2010. For years it had been occupied by migrants who came to the area to harvest the olives. The owner reportedly filed numerous complaints with law enforcement for violation of private property, but the migrant camp was never emptied.
The village was self-managed by the migrants, with a small bazaar, an area where a fire heated the shower water and an area where meat was slaughtered.
“I am really sad and saddened by the fire that broke out last night in the migrant camp in our region, causing the death of a young sub-Saharan,” said Enzo Alfano, mayor of Castelvetrano, after learning of the municipal police fire. He said the prefecture and town hall had been working to find housing for seasonal migrant farm workers. “Now the fire means the administrative process must be speeded up so that housing units from the area can arrive in the area soon,” Alfano said.