Astalli Centre JRS
|Headquarters||Via degli Astalli 14 / a, Rome|
|Italy, through 8 centres|
|Affiliations||Jesuit Refugee Service|
Astalli Centre JRS is headquartered in Rome and includes eight Jesuit Refugee Service centres throughout Italy. The Rome centre was founded in 1981, a year after the international JRS movement was initiated there. It has since gained seven affiliates: Palermo (2003), Catania (1999), Trento (2005), Vicenza (1990), Naples (1990), Milan (1994) and Padua (2014) with a combined staff of 49 and 486 volunteers in 2013.
The 2014 Astilli report on the eight centres tells of 27,830 applications for asylum in Italy, of the 42,925 reaching Italian shores, and of an in-hospitable attitude of Italy toward Syrians who then seek asylum elsewhere. In 2013 the Astalli centres in Italy served 37,000 people with its 486 volunteers and 49 on the staffs. These centres also tried to reach out to the more than 2,500 homeless refugees living on the fringes of society and there were 713 victims of torture, violence, or sexual abuse supported by the centres. The Centre's definition of a refugee is broader than that of the Geneva Convention and includes victims of natural disasters and of wrongful government policies. The chief problems encountered by long-term refugees was employment. The Centre's advocacy has mainly involved establishing safe corridors, an end to refoulement, and dignified reception centres for innocent victims of war. Through the Astalli centres more than 18,700 students in 13 cities were educated on inter-religious dialogue and the right to asylum.
Headquarters in Rome
In 2013 Pope Francis visited the Astalli Centre in Rome, delivering an address to its volunteers and stopping by its soup kitchen that serves about 425 meals each day. This brought an international spotlight to the Astalli Centre mission which has also drawn a visit from the Italian president.
The Rome Centre has four reception centres linked to the Interior Ministry, an Italian language school, a health facility catering to victims of torture, and an offering of legal counselling services. In 2012 it welcomed 21,000 people from over a dozen countries. It also sponsors inter-religious and cultural events, and awareness raising programs in schools. Many of these activities are also carried out at the other seven centres.
In October 2017 the director of the Centre received press coverage for his denunciation of the European Union for what he described as the illegal deportation of refugees from Afghanistan. The same month Centro Astalli took part in an international symposium in Rome on "Religion and Responses to Migrants and Refugees in Europe", which was convened to facilitate the work it is doing. This includes a “Communities of Hospitality” project whereby 27 religious congregations throughout Italy have welcomed refugees into their convents and houses, something Pope Francis had commended during his visit to the Centre.
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- Agnes, Brazal; Theresa, Davila, Maria (2016-05-11). Living With(Out) Borders: Catholic Theological Ethics on the Migrations of Peoples, Chapter on the Plight of Refugees and Centro Astalli Today. Orbis Books. ISBN 9781608336333. Search this book on
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