Our current COVID-19 activities include working with marginalised people – migrants and Italian nationals included – to strengthen health and hygiene surveillance in squats and informal settlements in Rome. We also undertake health promotion and infection prevention and control measures in migrant reception centres in Sicily.
Elsewhere, we monitor the condition of migrants in transit along Italy's borders with France, Switzerland, and Slovenia; working with local organisations, we provide medical care, food and other essential items.
In July 2021, we started working once again in Lampedusa, Sicily, where three MSF teams provide medical and mental health care to survivors of shipwrecks and to people on the move who have recently arrived on the island by boat.
Our activities in 2020 in Italy
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2020.
Italy was the first European country to be hard hit by COVID-19. In early March, at the request of the health ministry, we started working in hospitals in Lombardy, the region with the highest number of cases, sharing our epidemic expertise in infection prevention and control, and patient care. We extended our activities to other regions, focusing on vulnerable groups. Our teams worked in care homes, prisons, migrant centres, shelters for the homeless, informal settlements and squats, supporting civil society groups providing assistance, and running multilingual health promotion and online mental health activities.
Although our emergency response ended in July, we continued to carry out COVID-19 activities. On the outskirts of Rome, we supported the early detection and management of cases, while in Palermo, we responded to outbreaks in shelters for the homeless and migrant centres.
In the summer, our team in Lampedusa, Sicily, responded to a sharp increase in the number of migrants arriving from Libya and Tunisia. For two months, we supported and trained national health service medical teams in triage at disembarkation and offered psychological first aid to people traumatised by experiences during their journey.
Throughout the year, our teams continued to monitor the situation of migrants in transit at Italy’s northern borders. We denounced the dire living conditions, and the harsh treatment to which they were exposed, including physical abuse and pushbacks across the borders. We also worked with civil society groups to distribute relief items such as blankets and winter clothes.
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