Migrants housed in a former U.S. Navy base in Sicily patiently wait for their asylum applications to be processed and try to fill their days with sport and commerce. Nathan Frandino reports.
On a former housing complex in Sicily for U.S. Navy personnel, some 3,400 migrants are waiting for a new beginning. While these migrants come from all over, they have one thing in common: they're all being processed for asylum. Sebastiano Maccarone is the director here. He's particularly worried about the ones who have crossed the Mediterranean, including those who survived a ship that capsized last week, drowning some 900 people. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) DIRECTOR OF ASYLUM CENTRE, SEBASTIANO MACCARONE, SAYING: "Certainly their conditions are not very good. Especially under their psychological profiles, you can tell that they have gone through one of the worst tragedies that a human person can undergo." The number of migrants reaching Italy this year is set to top last year's record of 170,000. And processing centers like this one are overflowing. Since last weekend's shipwreck, the EU has pledged to step up search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Maccarone believes Europe should share more of the burden. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) DIRECTOR OF ASYLUM CENTRE, SEBASTIANO MACCARONE, SAYING: "They are very large numbers. But when these numbers are shared between all the other European countries they become more manageable in my opinion. So if that were the case, to call it an emergency would not be the right term." Until the emergency is solved, migrants here do what they can to pass the time. Some of those awaiting decisions lace up and play soccer -- while others -- sit and dream.