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Social cooperatives: the charter for the promotion of the sustainable inclusion of migrants in Italy

4 March 2016 [ English ] français ]

The on-going conflicts in Africa and the Middle East have led to an increasing number of individuals leaving their home countries and seeking asylum in Europe and the European Union has found itself unprepared to deal with this issue. The general political debate has concentrated primarily on closing the Schengen area, a measure that many consider to be the answer to both immigration and the terrorism threat, even though it will have severe consequences on the life of European citizens, will create serious threat to the single market economy and will place the European Union itself at risk.

Valerio Pellirossi, Federsolidarietà

“A serious debate is needed on the effectiveness of national and European immigration policies, because inclusion can be far more suitable than exclusion, both from a social and economic point of view. Furthermore, some inputs can be found at the ground level. In Italy, there are hundreds of social cooperatives all around the country providing shelter for asylum seekers and working for the inclusion of migrants”, says Giuseppe Guerini, President of Federsolidarietà, the largest Italian Federation of social cooperatives.

Federsolidarietà has recently launched a national charter “Carta Etica e Valoriale per l’accoglienza dei migranti” (Ethic and Value-based Charter for Welcoming Migrants) to promote joint action between social cooperatives and the public administration in order to promote the effective inclusion of migrants and to avoid social crises and conflicts. The Charter will be a pathway to facilitate the planning and implementation of immigration policies between local and central administrations and local actors.

“The charter is based on a few key elements affirming that immigrants should be hosted in small centres managed with the involvement, at different levels, of local actors. At the same time, social measures aiming to provide primary assistance to migrants (cultural mediation and psychological assistance, vocational training and language training, etc.) are central, rather than secondary to the provision of ‘a roof and a bed’”, insists Guerini.

The experience of the Federsolidarietà social cooperatives shows that when priority is accorded to the participation of local communities and the provision of assistance and cultural mediation, there are fewer conflicts and social crises.