This year alone, more than 100 000 refugees have been received in Italy. Yet, the south of Italy itself does not live in clover. Unemployment is considerably higher than in the richer north. Many young Italians leave the region, and look for career opportunities elsewhere. At the same time, and in this complicated situation, refugees from the poorest countries of Africa and from Bangladesh immigrate – in Italy many reach European soil for the first time. Thus, from the 21st to the 25th of October 2017 the first professional excursion as part of the Erasmus+ project “Europe4refugees – follow the routes” led participants to Southern Italy. In the regional capital of Cosenza, two representatives of each of the seven participating non-governmental organisations from five countries, and a group of professionals from Germany were able to form their own impressions of the situation of refugees: In four intensive days of training, they received a deep inside view of the Italian asylum system and its results on the lives of refugees.
Government support lasts no longer than six months
Refugees in Italy receive government support for only a comparably short stretch of time: “Official and organised support ends after six months at the latest”, reports Hildegard Azimi-Boedecker, department manager for Job International and Migration at IBB e.V. and coordinator of the Erasmus+ project. And living space is scarce as well. The primary goal is thus: Helping people to help themselves.
What seems harsh at first, has a positive side-effect: As refugees have to develop their own drive rather quickly, they do not permanently fall into the victim role. “The explicit goal is empowerment and avoiding ‘victimisation’. This is a special focus of our work”, says Emanuela Cerminare, manager of the hosting organisation La Kasbah onlus. Those who don’t make it may easily slip through the net and, in the worst case, may have to live on the street, the professionals learned.
Information about the governmental support program SPRAR – the Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers – by the regional administrations is already given at the registration centre. However, the municipalities can decide for themselves whether they apply the programme, reported Enza Papa and Alessandro Gordano of the support organisation La Kasbah onlus, who organised a sophisticated and comprehensive encounter programme for the first learning activity as part of the Erasmus+ project. Also, not every asylum seeker may enter the SPRAR programme. At the same time, SPRAR is a lucky chance for refugees: Accommodation, food, language instruction, and introductions to the Italian social, educational, and health systems are imparted by SPRAR. And in the end, many manage to take roots.