Manifold commitment for refugees

by Enos Nolli/SRI, 2015/09/08

While thousands of refugees have reached safe ground in Germany these days and have finally, after sometimes months of a veritable odyssey, found shelter against the violence in their home country, this situation has already been a daily reality in Italy for months. Together with its partner organization Gioventù in Missione (GIM), humedica has supported refugees, who have arrived by boat on the island Sicily. The GIM responsible Enos Nolli lets us look inside his daily work with the refugees and he also informs us about two human fates, which have moved him much:

“At the coast of Sicily, thousands of refugees are still arriving on European ground. Most of them are quickly transferred into other regions, because the pressure on the island has already passed its limits. Unfortunately, the administration has lost control of the situation and a better organization of this state of emergency is absolutely necessary. And unfortunately, some people really use this chaos to draw their own advantage out of the refugees’ distress. Also, many Italians’ patience has meanwhile been spent – a comprehensible human reaction.

We still work in the provinces Catania and Caltanissetta. In the refugee camp Mineo, the biggest camp in Europe, the most important help we can offer the people is listening to them, encourage them and help them with the talks about their application for asylum. Until the latter, the refugees must sometimes wait as long as up to one year and also afterwards it takes several months again until they get the decision.

Among the thousands of persons we meet during our work, we try to focus our help on the most difficult cases. Regularly we invite some refugees to our help center. At the moment, we care for some refugees from Pakistan, as well as two each from Iran, Nigeria and Egypt. During the time they are with us, we try to find out about their individual needs of help and to help them adequately.

For the refugees who live outside the camps without any support and who still have to wait for a free accommodation, we still provide help by distributing clothes, shoes and food. Moreover, we regularly visit two refugee camps, in each of which there are 150 people, as well as a smaller accommodation for refugees who had experienced torture and abuse.

Today, we want to present you the fates of two refugees, who we have accompanied for some time already:

Adam* from Senegal

We have met Adam three years ago in Mineo. He was deeply traumatized, as he had to watch the abuse and killing of his little sister. He himself has been nearly clubbed to death several times, of which he still hasn’t recovered. On his way through Libya, he has been put into prison because of missing papers. He spent many months in prison there, until a guard has miraculously saved him and helped him to flee to Italy.

At the beginning, Adam didn’t speak and he couldn’t see on one eye. He was locked in his continuous pain and in the night, nightmares kept him awake. Sometime he decided to learn Italian and in the first lesson, he told us his story.

Adam has never gone to school and starts learning to read and write only now, but that’s not so easy anymore at his age. Meanwhile, he speaks Italian a bit and he has become a bit more cheerful, ever more often he also smiles. He has got a visa for a year and now wants to try to get work in the north of Europe.

Godwin* from Nigeria

Godwin has just been able to spend some time with his wife and his baby in Nigeria and has now come back to Italy. In his home country, his father had worked in politics, but after the change of government, he had been threatened and had fled his country.

When Godwin’s mother and his little brother had been killed, the rest of the family also fled into the neighboring country Ghana and Godwin continued into Libya, to earn some money there. When an armed conflict broke out there, he was taken prisoner by rebels, was severely injured at his leg during bombings and was finally forced to flee over the Mediterranean.

After some months in Mineo he succeeded in getting into touch with his family. He waited several months, until his application for asylum was accepted. Now, Godwin is in two minds about whether he should rather try to earn money in Europe or whether he should return to his family despite danger to life: Since the last elections, the situation in Nigeria has stabilized a bit, so that his family could return to their home country, after fleeing for nine years.

These are only two of the uncountable number of refugee fates, which we encounter at our daily work and which shatter us every time anew. In order to offer these refugees a contact point in case of emergency, we have just started another project, where they can come and get help. We will see, how the refugee situation in Italy is going to continue and when the Italians’ public opinion will turn around. In any case, we will continue our efforts to make a human treatment and urgently needed help for the refugees possible.

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*Please understand that, for reasons of sensibility, we do not show any photos of the persons concerned. Thank you very much.

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