Many refugees arrive on the southern coast of Italy, but their goal is not Italy or South Tyrol. For them, Europe is Germany and the northern part of the continent - Denmark, Sweden. Their relatives live there. The EU organized a check on all documents arriving on the south coast. Then Italy distributes those refugees who seek political asylum here by region, depending on the number of inhabitants. In South Tyrol, 520,000 inhabitants represent 0.9 percent of the Italian population. That is, 0.9 percent of applicants for asylum go to us. Currently it is about 1000 people. In the summer, more people come to the sea. We in South Tyrol expect another 400–500 people this summer.
In the refugee reception centers, where they are located at the beginning, they again check their documents, conduct a medical examination, evaluate their language capabilities. Then there are refugees in ordinary houses, where they live between 20-25 people. There they are cared for by the Catholic charity organization Caritas and another society - Volontarius. Although they are helped by numerous volunteers, the population as a whole has, of course, some skepticism and even fear. But gradually, when they recognize these people, the fear passes. In all the South Tyrolean villages where there are refugees (there are now twenty), joint activities are held with local residents, and the first is always football.
Most of the refugees are young men. They do not have the experience of daily cooking, washing, cleaning, because they have women doing housework. They are taught this here. Not without difficulties, I must say. It is important that in fifteen or sixteen months, when the asylum issue is resolved, they can arrange their own lives. We offer them courses in the profession. They are already trained in some craft. But they have to get used to the fact that in Europe everything is arranged somewhat differently: you need to come to work early in the morning, you have a boss to whom you submit. This is the biggest difficulty we face.
After 60 days, they are allowed to work under the so-called practice agreement. At the same time they attend integration courses and language courses - German and Italian. We live in a minority region where both languages are used. The refugees immediately notice that not everyone here speaks Italian, and express a desire to learn German too.
Most of the refugees had an idea about Munich, Copenhagen and other major cities. And suddenly in South Tyrol, they fall into villages with a thousand inhabitants. Everyone here knows everyone. And they, of course, also know everything. They represented Europe in the form of large cities, where a lot of work and anonymity remain. And they have to decide: after receiving asylum they want to stay or still go to the metropolis. Here they understand that Europe is very different.