Last updated 21 November 2016
More than 167,200 people have arrived on Italian shores since January 2016, the majority (70 per cent) disembarking at Sicilian ports. During the same period, 4,139 people have died during the perilous sea crossing through the Central Mediterranean. The Italian reception system for asylum seekers has been put under strain and is not always fulfilling minimum standards. According to the Italian Ministry of Interior, there were more than 158,000 people hosted in reception centers as of September 2016.
In the Northern city of Gorizia, MSF is providing medical care and shelter to the hundreds of asylum seekers not immediately able to access the institutional reception system.
In Rome, a new rehabilitation centre for torture survivors opened in April 2016, focused on trauma-related vulnerabilities and providing rehabilitative services through a multidisciplinary approach (medical, psychological, physiotherapy, social and legal assistance) to victims of torture or inhumane treatment in their country of origin, or during their perilous journeys towards Europe.
Activities 2015 International Activity Report
The main ports of landing were Augusta, Pozzallo, Palermo, Reggio Calabria and Lampedusa. The reception system in Italy suffers from serious shortcomings as a result of the lack of political will to manage new arrivals. Access to humanitarian assistance and international protection for those in need is in no way guaranteed.
In 2015, MSF supported the Ragusa Provincial Health Agency with the medical screening of new arrivals and a 24-hour medical service, and worked inside Pozzallo’s first reception centre providing medical care. More than 3,000 consultations had been carried out by year’s end. Many patients presented with skin diseases (often a result of poor living conditions in Libya), respiratory tract infections, suspected tuberculosis (TB) and trauma.
MSF also launched a programme focusing on mental healthcare in 16 reception centres in Sicily’s Ragusa province, temporary home to 400 refugees and migrants. A team of two psychologists and several cultural mediators screened all new arrivals for psychological vulnerabilities and provided care to those in need. The team carried out 1,052 individual mental health consultations and organised 69 group sessions for 549 people. Most of the patients were from Nigeria, the Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Bangladesh and 41 per cent had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, while others were suffering from psychological distress or depression.
Throughout 2015, MSF undertook bilateral meetings and public advocacy efforts to call for change in the Italian reception system. A report was submitted to the Italian Parliament in November detailing problems at the primary reception centre in Pozzallo, such as overcrowding and poor hygiene conditions, and making recommendations for improvements. No changes were made and at the end of the year MSF made the difficult decision to cease activities in the centre.
Year MSF first worked in the country: 1999.
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