The PSCI Service-Learning Program met in Naples, Italy at 10 AM on Monday, July 4. Our goal is to help non-governmental organizations assisting refugees arriving in Italy and to learn about human rights in economic development.
The Citadel group includes four graduate students: Barbara Brown (Social Science); Robert Crossno (International Politics and Military Affairs); Emily Harmon (Social Science); and Tucker Strom (International Politics and Military Affairs). The group also includes Michael Holland, a rising junior from Augusta, GA; Robert Machamer, a rising junior from Easley, SC; Christopher Niepsuj, a rising junior from Elma, NY; and David Truesdale, a rising senior from Charleston, SC, as well as Sarah Tenney Sharman, an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department. Dr. Tenney Sharman’s husband, Howard Sharman, is also serving as a volunteer with the group. The program is designed to enable students to get hands-on experience while studying theories related to the politics of economic development.
Most people are familiar with the ongoing refugee crisis that has lit up headlines around the world, as more than 153,842 people have made their way from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East to Europe since 2015. What many people don’t know is that this has been a problem for Italy for quite some time. Because of Italy’s boot-like shape, long and meandering coastline, and close proximity to Africa, it has long served as a gateway to Europe. Hordes of refugees fleeing conflict, human rights violations, persecution, and socio-economic deprivation in other areas of the world arrive here almost daily in rubber boats, dinghies, and unseaworthy vessels. So far, 76,699 have arrived in 2016. Many of these people arrive desperately in need of international protection and assistance.
“Fear” and “uncertainty” have become the words of the day both for those seeking refuge and for those providing it. Italy itself is still reeling from the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, suffering sluggish economic growth and high levels of unemployment. In addition, many are worried about a variety of issues related to the number of arrivals. These include concerns not only about potential terrorists and terrorist attacks, but also street crime, communicable diseases, and the financial burden associated with providing for so many in need. Of course, the new arrivals face the fear and uncertainty of having to assimilate into new cultures, learning new languages, finding jobs, and starting over.
To date, most of the refugees and migrants making their way to Italy have been from sub-Saharan African countries, like Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, and Cote d’Ivoire. However, since Turkey has agreed to take back the refugees arriving from the Middle East to Greece, Italy is expected to become a primary port of entry for additional refugees coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Many of the arrivals seek political asylum in the European Union. While asylum status is usually reserved for those fleeing persecution in their home countries, the application and investigation process is complicated and time consuming. Similarly, refugee status is reserved for those fleeing active conflicts who hope to return to their native homes one day. Many of these people are forced to flee their homes in the wake of extreme violence, trauma, and deprivation. Still others coming to European shores are simply migrants in search of job opportunities and better life styles. In all cases, the arrivals have to be processed and provided basic living protections until they can assimilate in their new environments. This includes food, clothing, and shelter as well as medical and other assistance.
The Citadel group looks forward to working with local non-governmental organizations here in Naples to help in this endeavor.
- Sarah Tenney-Sharman
- Sarah Tenney-Sharman
Pictured (from left to right): Usha Waygood and Ivan Fadini (International Napoli Network); Howard Sharman, Barbara Brown, Michael Holland, Tucker Strom, Rober Machamer, Robert Crossno, David Truesdale, Emily Harmon, and Chris Niepsuj