The Role of Croce Rossa in Assisting Refugees
On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, John Cabot University welcomed the Rome Branch of Croce Rossa Italiana (Italian Red Cross – CRI) to present the first annual report of its refugee camp in Via Ramazzini, in Rome. The special lecture featured CRI Social Area representatives Flavia Cuniolo and Lino Posteraro and was organized by the JCU Center for Professional & Continuing Education, in the context of the JCU Service Learning Project. John Cabot University is proud to have the Italian Red Cross as the founding partner of the Service Learning Project, which promotes co-curricular activities for students and graduates interested in working in the humanitarian field.
Since June 2016, CRI Rome instituted a first-level assistance hub in via Ramazzini, a center which provides basic assistance in terms of food, shelter, legal and psychological support to refugees. In 2017 the center welcomed about 3300 people, aged 18 – 25 years on average, including over 400 women and 160 children, mainly from Eritrea, West Africa and the Middle East. The center also offers Italian classes and cultural activities, sports, and film screenings in order to ease the refugees’ stay.
War, violence and poverty are the main reasons that drive people to leave their countries and come to Italy. Particularly striking is the phenomenon of human trafficking of women from Nigeria to Italy for prostitution. To raise awareness of the extreme conditions of these women’s home countries and of the dangers they face during the journey to Italy, young women from Eritrea hosted at the reception center of Via del Frantoio made a video testimonial in which they narrated their personal experiences as women and migrants.
The event was also an opportunity for Mrs. Cuniolo to illustrate the Italian reception system. The 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugee defines a refugee “as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail him— or herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution.” People who seek international protection have access to three types of protection regimes: refugee status, subsidiary protection and humanitarian protection. The latter is actually not an international regime but an Italian provision for people who do not qualify for international protection but cannot be removed from Italy because of serious concerns of a humanitarian nature.
The first step in the Italian reception system are hotspots located in coastal areas, such as Lampedusa or Taranto, where the refuges are first welcomed and the Italian government collects personal data. Refugees subsequently are taken to the centers of first assistance, such as Hub Ramazzini, to later move to the so-called CAS or CARA (Centri Accoglienza Richiedenti Asilo), where they can start their asylum procedure and get training for their personal and professional development. The last step is the SPRAR (Sistema di Protezione per Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati), managed by local authorities, where they can stay for a maximum of one year, once their asylum request is approved, thus completing the reception process.
An example of a personal and social rehabilitation story was provided by the testimonial of Moussa, a young boy from the Ivory Coast who attended the lecture at JCU. He told his story starting from his experience as a refugee wandering through Europe in search of legal recognition, to being welcomed at a CARA and a SPRAR and finally getting hired by CRI through the National Civil Service. Moussa is now a staff member at Hub Ramazzini and is committed to helping his fellow migrants become part of the Italian community.
In conclusion, Professor Lanzone, JCU Service Learning Project Coordinator, thanked the Italian Red Cross representatives for their contribution and informed the audience that JCU student club STAND (Students Taking Action Now – Darfur) is committed to promoting a fundraising campaign to raise the reception standards for the guests of the CRI Center.