An unprecedented number of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers landed on Italian shores in 2014, many of them fleeing wars in their home countries.
Arriving via the Mediterranean remains the main option for many trying to reach Europe and claim international protection. Exploitation, violence and the risks of the crossing are not deterrents for people already facing life-threatening situations.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams saw an increase in the number of vulnerable people disembarking in Italy, including victims of violence and torture, those with disabilities, children and pregnant women. Figures from the UN’s Refugee Agency showed the most common nationalities of arrivals were Syrian and Eritrean. Collaborating with the health ministry, teams conducted health screenings in Pozzallo, Sicily, and provided psychological care to people living in reception centres in Ragusa province. Many patients presented with scabies, respiratory tract infections, suspected tuberculosis and psychological suffering. A temporary tented clinic was also set up in the port of Augusta to offer medical care to new arrivals and make urgent referrals to hospital. The Augusta project was handed over to the health ministry and the Italian Red Cross in December, once the number of new arrivals had decreased.
Between March and September, an MSF team managed a 23-bed inpatient service in Milan to provide medical care to homeless people discharged from hospital. The project was located in a shelter with a capacity for 150 people, and was run in cooperation with local organisations, offering free inpatient and outpatient care, including nursing. Many patients suffered from chronic diseases or illnesses resulting from the harsh living conditions, such as respiratory tract infections. The project was handed over to the health ministry in September.
The MSF Chagas disease project, which included education and screening, ended in June.
No. staff in 2014: 22 | Expenditure: €0.9 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1999 | msf.org/italy