Rome

Charities demand action on crisis in Italy's refugee service

Social groups say rising refugee tide tests Italian response

Charities demand action on crisis in Italy's refugee service

Rome, November 12 - Leading Italian social welfare groups are demanding government action to deal with what they call a refugee crisis. Numerous North African refugee claimants seeking help from Italy are not being assisted, charity groups Caritas and Fondazione Migrantes said Monday. And the situation will only worsen as continuing waves of immigrants arrive on Italian shores. "The realistic prospect of new flows towards Italy of people who...escape for political and religious reasons, does not allow continuation of existing precarious structures," designed to cope with humanitarian crises, they said. The agencies are especially worried by the looming deadline of December 31, when emergency provisions to cope with North African immigrants ares scheduled to end. As many as 60% of refugee claimants are still waiting for their cases to be resolved by the Italian government, according to surveys conducted by Caritas. Many refugees run into "the hardships and the many bureaucratic difficulties" of launching their claims, as well as hitting the economic crisis that is threatening social centres, parishes, and other host communities that normally assist refugees, the two organizations said. They noted that the Italian government has promised to develop a new procedures for dealing claimants seeking help on humanitarian grounds. However, what's needed is better coordination and cooperation across agencies dealing with refugees and immigrants, the groups said.

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