In the different territorial offices (Roma, Palermo, Catania, Trento, Vicenza) JRS Italy reached about 20,000 beneficiaries during 2008. In Rome, the soup kitchen served more than 400 meals every day, and 481 people attended five days a week the Italian language course. Most of the effort during the year was focused on increasing the capacity of the services and opening new ones.
A new reception centre for 25 women and children was opened in Palermo. The Ministry for Welfare financed the renovation of the building, which made it possible for Centro Astalli Palermo to give an answer to an urgent need of the town.
The project for assistance and health care to asylum seekers and refugees Sa.Mi.Fo., based in Rome and started in 2007 thanks to a partnership between JRS Italy and the Italian National Health Service with the support of UNHCR, was potentiated and moved to new offices in the city centre.
During 2008, programs of awareness raising were particularly important, especially the programs for young people. The two projects offered by JRS Italy, ‘the right to asylum’, and the ‘interfaith dialogue for high school students’ were continued in 2008. Thousands of teenagers in many Italian towns, including Rome, Catania, Palermo, Padova, Lecce, Imperia, Milan, participated in the projects.
The second edition of the writing competition, “La scrittura non va in esilio”, supported by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, was a great success, with the winning story coming from a 14 year old Roman student. The story was published on the front page of the national newspaper “L’Unità”, and will be the basis fo a short movie to be directed by the Cinema School of Rome.
A training course on asylum rights in Europe and in Italy, “Borders or Barriers?”, was organised, as every spring, for staff and volunteers in Rome. The three conferences, whose speakers were representative of UNHCR and of the main NGOs working on the theme, were attended by an average of 100 people each.
In June JRS Italy was visited by Father Nicolás SJ, the newly elected Father General of the Society of Jesus, who gave a long and meaningful speech on migration in the light of his own personal experiences.
Video produced by Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
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