Tech & Rights

From Housing to Healthcare, Italy Puts Up Barriers to Refugee Integration

A new annual report on the situation of refugees in Italy finds too many bureaucratic hurdles are making life difficult and increasing the sense of exclusion.

by Justine Cary
Over 150,000 refugees arrived in Italy last year, and many – especially families and single mothers with small children – continue to struggle to overcome too many barriers to integration.

The Astalli Centre has recently presented its annual report on the position of asylum seekers and refugees arrived in Italy over the past 12 months.

The aim of the report is to take stock of services provided for refugees, the difficulties they have experienced and the possibilities of integration in Italy.

Social integration

In 2015, 152,842 refugees arrived in Italy. While some of them continued on their way to another European country, the others tried to seek protection in Italy.

Syrian couple Hassan Zaheda, 31, and Nour Essa (L), 30, and their son Riad, 2, in Rome in April 20. Refugees families are finding it difficult to integrate into Italian society.  (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Refugees still face many difficulties in Italy, especially families and single mothers with young children. Once they arrive in the country, they still have a long way to go on the road to autonomy and independence.

Some progress has been made to provide emergency shelters – Italy has successfully made available 100,000 reception places – but the social integration processes, including access to safe housing, professional training and internships, are not yet developed enough.

That is why the report encourages all relevant institutions to make efforts in order to enable refugees to benefit from proper integration and become independent.

Too many barriers

The report also highlights how refugees experienced many administrative and bureaucratic barriers in 2015. New criteria and procedures regarding fictitious addresses, civil registration or resident permit fees – a serious obstacle for refugee families – have been put in place, making life more difficult.

Syrian refugee woman and child play in Rome. Finding safe housing in which to raise a family is one of the most pressing issues facing refugees in Italy.  (REUTERS/Max Rossi)

For instance, a major concern at present is the new healthcare ticket: now, unemployed refugees – that is, the vast majority of them – will be denied free access to medical care and treatment, further complicating their health situation.

All those barriers and bureaucratic obstacles create a strong sense of exclusion and incomprehension for refugees: Italy really needs to do more to properly welcome and integrate its refugees!