80 percent migrants treated by Rome clinic are torture victims

Some 80 percent of migrants assisted in 2017 by the MEDU mobile clinic in Rome say had they suffered torture, abuse, serious deprivation, sexual violence or enslavement. Most of the mistreatment happened in Libya.

In a year of activity in precarious settlements in the Italian capital, the Medici per i Diritti Umani (Doctors for Human Rights, or MEDU) organization found that over 80 percent of the patients helped had suffered torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment in their countries of origin or transit, especially in Libya.

8 out of 10 migrants suffered torture

The latest report drafted by the organization covers the period running from December 2016 to November 2017. In this time, MEDU doctors and healthcare workers helped 868 people in the mobile clinic, performing 1,524 (initial and follow-up) examinations during 124 evening visits to three settlements in Rome: the humanitarian migrant centre of the Tiburtina train station, the homeless in the Termini train station and an occupied building in the Tor Cervara area.

”Most of the patients were forced migrants who were males (93 percent) between the ages of 18 and 30 (68 percent). Most of them had arrived in Italy in recent months or a few weeks prior (44 percent less than a month before),” MEDU noted. Many of the people examined were ”victims of torture or inhumane and degrading treatment, unaccompanied minors, single mothers with children, people with chronic diseases or people with serious psychological vulnerabilities,” it added.

The most alarming figure is ”the high number of victims of torture and abuse: over 80 percent of those examined said that they had suffered torture, abuse, serious deprivation, sexual violence or enslavement, most of which took place in official or unofficial detention centres in Libya. This was also the case with 17 or the 47 unaccompanied minors examined”, it said.

‘Lack of concrete response’ in Rome

“The healthcare condition of the people that we examined is the fallout from a situation of abuse and illegitimate practices,” MEDU volunteer Adelaide Massimi said. The mobile clinic team says that they provided information to 1,283 patients and referred 240 individuals to healthcare services, social services or legal assistance. Furthermore, they accompanied 85 people in particularly vulnerable situations to the services.

On access to medical treatment, of the patients examined, 79 percent were de facto excluded due to a lack of information, linguistic or cultural barriers, lack of convenience of the services and the inadequacy and disparities in information and orientation services at migrant reception services, according to MEDU.

The organisation stressed that despite numerous commitments made by institutions, they can only see a serious lack of concrete, stable and consistent responses to the ‘issue’ of reception.


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