In recent years, unprecedented numbers of migrants have arrived in Italy due to political, religious, ethnic and economic instabilities in West and North Africa and the Middle East. Simultaneously, the Eurozone Crisis and neoliberal austerity measures left the Italian government struggling to administer healthcare and legal services to all migrants. This study investigates the provision of essential services by the Italian state and two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Emergency and ARCI, respectively providing free medical and legal services, to incoming migrants in Siracusa, Italy. It analyzes migrants' perceptions of these services and evolving goals in Europe. Building upon preliminary fieldwork conducted in 2014, in January to July 2015 I undertook six months of participant observation in a migrant reception center and legal offices in Siracusa. During my research I conducted 72 unstructured and semi-structured interviews with migrants, NGO activists, lawyers, and doctors, and state physicians. This study analyzes Emergency's role as an entrance to the Italian healthcare system and ARCI as a facilitator of legal aid to migrants. I argue that the clinic's position on the outskirts of Siracusa functions as a means of exclusion, exacerbating divides between the local population and incoming migrants. Additionally, I provide insight into the provision of legal services to migrants in Siracusa, as well as how these migrants navigate geopolitical and legislative borders, and these borders' roles within the politics of the European Union and neoliberal ideologies. I argue that selective enforcement of asylum legislation and dearth of legal aid to migrants motivates many migrants to clandestinely flee Italy to seek futures in other European nations, consequently moving "burdens" of migrant reception. This research contributes to public policy and scholarship on health and migration policy as well as politics of conflict, while shedding light on the critical role of NGOs in a complex humanitarian crisis occurring in Southern Europe.
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Kersch, Adam, "Asylum in Crisis: Structural Violence and Refugees in Siracusa, Italy" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4861.