Siculiana is a small town located in Sicily which for years has been welcoming hundreds of migrants in a building that used to be a Hotel, called “Villa Sikania”. The non-stopping migrants arrival has gravely changed the lives of the citizens and the economy of the small town which as many other locations in Sicily mostly lives off tourism.
The “Villa Sikania” problem started in 2013 in the middle of the economic and migrant crisis when the owner of the building decided that keeping it as a Hotel was no longer worth the investment and decided to turn it into a migrant center. Why may you ask? Because the Italian state pays very good money for whoever decides to host migrants, many other Hotel owners all around the peninsula have made the same choice. Hosting migrants makes more money than hosting tourists.
The inhabitants flooding the streets in Siculiana were not marching against the owner of “Villa Sikania” but against the state, who they blame for facilitating these kinds of developments. Some of the protesters stated that the small city is filled with migrants, that it has been like this for 4 years and the people can not take it any longer. The Mayor himself, Leonardo Lauricella, complained saying that the migrants’ center holds too many people and its presence is hurting the economy of Siculiana.
During the march, every shop was closed and almost every house was empty, a truly heartfelt march of people tired of being forgotten by their own government. Schools were closed too and kids marched with their parents. The march was peaceful and as soon as it was finished everyone went back to their homes and duties.
Sicily is the closest Italian region to Lybia and as a matter of fact often the entry point for most illegal migrants reaching Europe from the Mediterranean route. As previously stated, Sicily mostly lives off tourism, its industry and job market aren’t very strong and mass immigration is weakening their tourist sector which would kill the Island’s economy.