Italy: Focused support for female asylum seekers

More worrying still is the adoption of restrictive legislation empowering regional authorities to expel asylum seekers immediately and without access to legal defense. MSF began assisting refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants in Brindisi in November 1999, and opened a reception center for them there in February 2001. Originally for both sexes, the center now focuses exclusively on support to vulnerable female foreigners. The decision to change its mission was taken because 85% of the people taken in since it opened were women, many of them escapees from prostitution networks. MSF has also reached an agreement with the Brindisi health authorities for public health centers and hospitals to provide health care to all the users of the MSF facility. MSF is starting a medical program for refugees and asylum seekers arriving at Lampedusa island, 200km south of Sicily, in September 2002. In Rome, MSF is currently reorienting its program, with the aim of improving health dispensary access for vulnerable foreigners. Paid staff: 11