The cover of the report. Credit: Associazione Cittadini del Mondo
The cover of the report. Credit: Associazione Cittadini del Mondo

A new report on Selam Palace, the largest occupied building of asylum seekers in Rome, said that living conditions are "alarming" for those living in the structure.

The organization Associazione Cittadini del Mondo in Rome recently published a new report on Selam Palace, which is considered the largest occupied building of refugees and international protection holders in Rome. The organization has been working for 12 years in the former university building, providing social and health services consultations on a weekly basis. It said the occupied building continues to be an actual "invisible city" made up almost entirely of hundreds of refugees and international protection holders. 

It said the situation is alarming due to its abandonment by institutional services and that it is emblematic of the "crisis" in migrant reception in both the capital city and the country as a whole. 

The population at Selam Palace 

Situated in the southeastern outskirts of Rome, Selam Palace was defined by Nils Muiznieks, the European Council's Commissioner for Human Rights, as "shocking", following a visit to the structure in 2012. 

Between 2013 and February 2018, 558 occupants have used the health service provided weekly by Cittadini del Mondo at least once. Of those, 74 percent were men, over 60 percent of whom were between the ages of 31 and 50, 67 percent of whom had been in Italy for more than five years. 

The majority, 55 percent, were from Eritrea, followed by Somalia (20 percent), Ethiopia (15 percent), and Sudan (9 percent). 

Fifty-six percent of users were subsidiary protection holders, 32 percent political asylum holders, and 3 percent humanitarian protection holders. 

Of the users, 76 percent were unemployed or looking for their first job, a condition that often leads to social problems or mental health issues, such as alcoholism, especially among the male population. Health issues included musculoskeletal disorders (14 percent) and infectious diseases and parasites (12 percent), above all scabies. 

Reception in crisis 

"It continues to be alarming that the users who need the association's support are almost entirely international protection holders, and that a high number of them have lived in Italy for a long time," said the association in its report."This reflects the crisis of a reception system that doesn't provide refugees the necessary tools for orienting themselves and integrating themselves into the Italian social fabric," it said. 

To remedy this, Cittadini del Mondo has strengthened its bi-weekly social activity service within its intercultural library at the structure, and it has taken steps forward in its approach to the area's institutional services through a collaboration with the municipal offices in the city district where the building is located. The organisation said it hopes that the city will "enact a secondary reception programme that manages to provide ways for integration throughout Rome".

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