"A Good Start"  Extraordinary Measures for Reception of Forced Migrants in Rome

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: November 2011 - Project end date: November 2012
Project number: 2011-34
Beneficiary: Associazione Centro Astalli


The project "A good start. Extraordinary measures for reception of forced migrants in Rome" started on December 2011 and finished in November 2012. The aim was to enhance the first reception services for forced migrants assisted from Centro Astalli Association - the Jesuit Refugee Service in Italy. Life conditions in Rome are in fact very critical for the forced migrants and they have got worse in the last year with the new massive landings from the North Africa. The available places in accommodation centers financed by Comune di Roma are about 1.200 and this situation creates long waiting lists and has brought to the occupation of public and private abandoned buildings where large communities of asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia continue to live in desperate conditions. Another very worrying element is the very unsatisfactory access to sanitary services: according to the last report on the conditions of refugees who live in Rome by Medici per i Diritti Umani Association (MEDU), only 39% of them is regularly registered to the National Health Service. In this difficult context, the project aim was, therefore, enhancing the first reception services for forced migrants assisted from Centro Astalli Association, specifically reception centers, health service and soup kitchen, in order to answer to the bigger help request coming from forced migrants.

Regarding the reception service, the project on the one hand has permitted to start the refurbishment works for the reception center for single men "San Saba". Refurbishment works finished in November and on 22nd November 2012 there was opening ceremony in the presence of Mayor. On the other hand the project helped to enforce the reception and accompaniment activities in the other two reception centers for forced migrants managed by Centro Astalli (for single women with children and for families), such as language lessons, counseling, social support, integration services. At the end of the activities the three centers hosted, all together, 100 people.

With respect to the health service, "A good start" enabled to activate specific individual programs of support for 300 victims of tortures, including access to Public Health Care System and psychological and psychiatric support within the Center SaMiFo (health for Forced Migrants) run by Centro Astalli in partnership with ASL RMA.

The project permitted to guide the Patients through bureaucratic activities, such as registration with the National Health Care System and, above all, to offer them concrete medical assistance that responded to the problems of people originating from very different geographical and cultural contexts, who often had incredible and tragic life stories. Registration is an important moment, both for informing the patient about the procedure of accessing the system, and for promptly resolving difficulties that might arise as a foreigner interacts with the public system.

Centro Astalli personnel paid particular attention to psychological and psychiatric assistance, especially for torture victims: for these extremely vulnerable individuals, the project offered legal medical service to provide official certifications of violence that had been suffered.

Lastly, regarding the soup kitchen, the project enabled to increase the number of meals for forced migrants. Unfortunately the number of people who turns to Centro Astalli in order to eat a complete meal, sometimes the only one in the day, has even increased in the last years. The always growing asylum seekers and refugees number that arrive in Rome, driven by the illusion of larger job and integration possibilities, adds to the number of people that don't have the possibility to provide to their own autonomy because of the economic crisis and the consequent difficulty to find a job. It has brought to a notable rise of forced migrants that turn to our soup kitchen. Every day, for five days for week, the Centro Astalli soup kitchen offers more than 400 meals but in the last year, in order to answer to this critical situation, Centro Astalli increased 100.000 meals its ordinary yearly offer.

The service was not limited to serving a meal: social workers were always present to offer information to newcomers and started to assist forced migrants for their specific needs. Specifically from September to November 2012, through the Nando Peretti Foundation grant, Centro Astalli Association bought about 3.210 kilos of bread.

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