Italy: Key services reach vulnerable immigrants

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Although health care is theoretically available to all people, with or without papers, in practice the sometimes vague and contradictory Italian law is often interpreted arbitrarily. In addition, many people are not aware that they have a legal right to health care. In March 2001, MSF opened a reception center in the town of Brindisi on the Adriatic Sea - a key entry point for immigrants reaching Italy by boat. The center, open to people with or without papers, is in an apartment building near the train station and offers social, medical, and psychological assistance. Food, clothes, and hygiene supplies are available, and ten beds provide accommodation for up to five days. In Rome, an MSF van reaches vulnerable people without papers in some of the city's outlying neighborhoods. MSF offers medical consultations and organizes information meetings explaining how to register with the national health system or get to the nearest health post. About 2,500 people were helped by this service in 2000. These projects are part of a broader effort to care for and bring attention to the plight of asylum seekers in Europe (see page 6). International staff: 1 National staff: 10