A breakdown of the crisis for humanity in Europe (Part 3) - Brendan Woodhouse

Concentrating on Italy

So a while ago I was in the process of providing information about the crisis around Europe. I’ve already given an overall analysis, and discussed the departure point of Libya and the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. Over the last year, most refugees have landed in Italy, so here’s a breakdown of what’s happening there:

At the moment, Italy is overwhelmed by managing the sheer volume of people arriving, and the EU plans to redistribute them, simply don’t work. Everyone has to be registered when they first arrive, mostly in Catania, as part of a process, which many blame for the rising numbers of people being illegalised. Homelessness and forced prostitution are commonplace as the helplessness engulfs the people affected. 

Once the people arrive in the ports, after being rescued, fingerprints and photos are taken, often before much needed medical care. They are then taken by bus to one of the hot spot camps. Here they receive some medical attention, and asked a series of questions, pertaining to their eligibility for asylum. Some survivors report that sometimes people are collectively questioned, so a representative from one group will be asked why they came and where they want to go to. This information comes from those that leave the camps, as no volunteers are allowed access, not even the press. If they give too many ‘wrong’ answers, then they are deemed as having “no good prospects for asylum” and they are denied even applying for protection. 

Italy however, can neither afford nor administrate the enforcement of the deportations, and some of the people are asked to sign a pledge to leave the country within seven days. This is a process which defies logic, and leaves thousands of people without the ability to apply for asylum, nor the capacity to leave. 

If they are given the chance to apply for asylum, then they are forwarded to a variety of camps. There are reports of real inhuman conditions in these camps, where people live in ghetto like conditions. There are frequent investigations due to human rights violations and violent clashes.

The process for those who have a chance for asylum basically follows a system:

First, they arrive in the ports and go to first aid and hosting centers which are located in the ports. Those needing urgent medical care are transferred to hospital. The Italian Red Cross are often at the ports, but other teams also provide this medical assistance.

Second, they are transferred to CPAs (First Hosting Centers), where they are identified and can start the asylum procedure.

Next, they will arrive at the SPRAR Centres (Asylum Seekers Protection System). Here they receive support with social inclusion and regarding their asylum request. If the request is denied, they receive assistance to appeal. The SPRAR Centres fall under the jurisdiction of the municipalities. 

In the case of overcrowded CPAs and SPRAR centres, they are sent to CAS (Extraordinary Hosting Centers). These can be in hostels. Gymnasiums, private houses and apartments. They’re usually on the outside of cities and villages, but this isn’t always the rule. Often they are incredibly overcrowded.

The intention in Italy is to deport 10,000 people per year. In order to do this, the Italian interior minister has been meeting with representatives of North African countries to implement plans to open a CIE (Centre Of Identification and Expulsion) in every region in Italy. At the moment, there are four CIEs active in four different regions. CIEs have been accused of being inhuman, and expensive, as well as being recruiting grounds for extremists. Approximately 6,000 deportations were made in 2016, according to sources in Italy.

Many people tire of the cramped conditions in these various centers and locations. Many simply want to find somewhere that they can be safe. Seeing the volume of people in Italy, they choose to push on. Others have already decided where they want to go, often depending upon the language that they speak, or good things that they hear about one country or another. 

It’s a complete misconception in the UK that they all want to come for benefits. Most simply just want to start a new life, and be given the chance to live in peace. Is that too much to ask?

I would say though, that I have never been to see for myself, and I’ve been helped massively with the information above.

I’d like to thank Caro Zieringer of Projekt Seehilfe e. V. and Sandra Uselli for their invaluable input on the situation in Italy. 

Photo Credit: Federica Mameli