Many asylum seekers go through Italy on their journey from either Syria, Eritrea or other countries south of Italy. But conditions are harsh for asylum seekers in the South European country. New Times talked with an asylum seeker who has experienced it
Ali is a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Iran. He went to Italy two years ago to seek asylum. He ended up living in the street, struggling to get food and shelter. He now lives in Avnstrup asylum center in Denmark, hoping to be able to live here.
What happened to you in Italy?
When I entered Italy I went to a police office and told them I am asylum seeker.
The police gave me an address in a city called Ancona and told me there is camp for asylum seekers there and that I should go there. I went there but they did not accept me because there were no empty rooms.
The camp was not very big. It was just one building with three floors and 60 rooms. It was very dirty and messy. I guess 350 persons were living there.
What did you do then?
I asked the Red Cross staff for help. They told me: “Sorry, we cannot help you more than this. We do not have enough rooms for all the asylum seekers coming here”.
I went back to the police office, but they told me there were no other empty camps. They took my fingerprints and told me to come back later for an interview.
How long did you wait for your interview day?
I waited for six months.
What did you do in that period?
I lived in the street for a long time. I could not find any place to stay. I got a lot of experience about sleeping in the streets. I learned from the other homeless people that it was necessary to find black jobs to survive. And to find a space to hide your bag with your belongings when you were working. I looked for a black job. I searched for a space for hiding my bag. I found one and I was later offered a day-long job at a restaurant. After seven hours I came back to take my bag and my things but I couldn’t find it. It was gone. Someone had stolen it. I had lost both my ID card and my few other belongings. I had to be strong.
People living in the street are happy if they can find money for just a meal. And people live in constant risk of deportation. I saw the police deporting many Somali and Sudanese people. I slept under a bridge for three months. I finally succeeded in finding a black job in a pizzeria and my boss allowed me to sleep there. Then I went to my interview at the police station and I was given a permission to stay in Italy for six months. But the government did not offer any help to refugees.
After your permission was your life better?
No, because there are no white jobs for refugees in Italy. There is crisis in their economy and no work.
After a while I decided to came to Denmark for a better life and to study at university. Denmark is a country where humans. I hope I can make a successful life in Denmark.
Picture text: There are bad welfare provisions for asylum seekers in Italy. Many end up living in the streets like this man in Firenze, Italy. (Photo: Art Crimes / CC)
Caught in the Dublin trap
According to a European Union law (called the Dublin Regulation) refugees are deported back to the first EU country they entered. That is often Italy or Greece, which have bad welfare provisions for the asylum seekers.
Text box: Where is he now?
New Times can no longer get in contact with Ali. He may already be deported back to Italy.