MSF expands activities in 'Hotel Africa', Rome

Hotel Africa photo galley

After two months of intense pressure from MSF on the local and national authorities, still only five bathroom have been installed for over 400 people. No dustbins have been installed. The result is a mountain of garbage growing in front of the main door of the building.

 


 


MSF has increased its activities in a derelict railway station in Rome known as "Hotel Africa", where hundreds of people are squatting under bad conditions. The MSF Missione Italia team has tried to get the authorities to provide basic services and care for the asylum seekers in Tiburtina station but with little success.

After two months of intense pressure from MSF on the local and national authorities, still only five bathroom have been installed for over 400 people. No dustbins have been installed. The result is a mountain of garbage growing in front of the main door of the building.

MSF doctors are providing medical screening to check the health conditions of the asylum seekers. The team is also distributing blankets and towels. With winter approaching rapidly, the nights are getting too cold and humid to get through them without any cover, even inside the buildings.

Meanwhile, one of the three remaining buildings has now been demolished, cutting back the available space for the hundreds of asylum seekers by one-third. Inside the remaining constructions, overcrowding and lack of basic services are taking a huge toll on the mental health of the people. On several occasions, fights have broken out between people unable to cope with a situation of continuous deprivation.

"I decided to leave my country because I wanted to find back the dignity I've lost during the war," said an asylum seeker from war-torn Sudan. "But since I arrived in Italy I've lived in this place and I feel to have less dignity than when I was in my Sudanese village with a lack of everything. I don't see any positive prospect for my future."

Over the coming months the old railway station will be completely demolished, to make place for a new station. While providing basic services for the people, the MSF team is also lobbying for a future solution, weary that without housing the asylum seekers will be left to survive in the streets.

"Unfortunately, Tiburtina is not unique," says Loris De Filippi, Head of Mission for MSF in Italy. "In the south of Italy we encounter similar or even worse situations regularly. The problem in that the government is not living up to minimum standards in the reception system of asylum seekers. And the financial plans of the government for the next year do not indicate an improvement".

Meanwhile, on the island of Lampedusa, MSF continues to witness inadequacies even in the first reception of asylum seekers. The local reception centre has beds for 180 people but has seen 400 new arrivals over the past 48 hours, forcing many people to sleep on the floors. Suicide attempts and self-mutilation are becoming common features of daily life in the overcrowded centre.

"We're really far away the European standard in the reception of asylum seeker. Italy has to work a lot on the topic to achieve the communitarian standards," concluded Loris De Filippi.