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System of Protection for Asylum Seekers and Refugees Internship Report

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Updated: Jan 28th, 2020


A refugee refers to an individual who has fled his or her country to seek shelter, protection or other basic human needs in another country. There are different situations that may force an individual out of his or her country, some of them being characterized by gross violation of human rights.

These different situations can lead to the mass movement of groups of individuals, usually civilians, or fleeing of few individuals of eminent personalities in the country. In addition, a protracted warfare that is experienced in a given country may force some of the civilians that are affected by war to flee from the country to another country in need of protection.

Clashes that are often witnessed among neighboring ethnic communities have also been seen to contribute to the displacement of some proportion of a given population. The members of some minority communities may be evicted by rival group. The same applies to the citizens of a country that experiences war with countries.

In addition, residents of a war-torn section of a country may be forced out of their residential homes to seek protection elsewhere. Moreover, political temperatures in a country also contribute to the displacement of citizens that become asylum seekers. For instance, a political coup attempt may result into a war between the military on the side of the government and the opposition that attempts to overthrow the government.

Civilians are often the victims of such violent circumstances and are forced to flee the country. They are supposed to receive some protection from the government and if this has failed, then they feel they should run away for safety (Selm-Thorburn, 1998). Members of the rebel group or some liberation movement often flee their country for fear of being oppressed by the present government.

These liberation movements find it convenient to lay strategies and implement their planned attacks while they are outside their country. This also applies to some senior official in the current government of a given country that has had an ideological difference with his or her seniors and fears that he or she may be assassinated.

Regardless of the roots and the immediate cause of refugees and asylum seekers, these individuals have certain common problems that need to be addressed by the host nations. The majority of these individuals have lost all the property from which they would obtain the basic human needs.

Some have lost members of their families to the violent wrangles or disasters whereas others have families disintegrated with little possibilities of ever coming together again. The experiences of the refugees on their way from the cruel land are quite tormenting. Some have been psychologically upset due to the loss of property and relatives and the experiences they encountered during the exodus.

The refugees and asylum seekers, thus, require psychological therapy and proper guidance and counseling. They still require education and other forms of training that can enable them realize their dreams in life. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is an agency under the United Nations that deals wit the refugees from different parts of the globe.

There is need to determine a true refugee who should be accommodated in given country. These systems will examine the roots and the immediate causes of the asylum seekers and establish their viability. A host nation may unknowingly protect and accommodate, as a refugee, a criminal or a terrorist from an enemy nation who can plan massive attack on the country or from the host country.

The bodies at the local and international levels obtain support from other donor agencies and international organization to help meet the needs of the refugees. There is still more to be done by the international agencies concerned with the refugees. While providing a solution for the immediate problems, there is also a need to determine the ways that can help prevent more influx of the refugees. An analysis of the areas that are prone to sending away refugees will provide an insight on the better preventive mechanisms that may be employed.

About the organization

The System of protection for asylum seekers and refugees (SPRAR) is an Italian national system that deals with refugees and asylum seekers. The system began to develop in the beginning of the last decade following a joint work by different non-governmental organizations, the Ministry of Interior in Italy, the National Association of the Italian Municipality (ANCI), and the UNHCR (Servizio Centrale- History of the Reception System, 2011a,).

These different bodies considered the situations that had been recorded in the systems of receiving refugees in 1999 and 2000 and approved the National Asylum Program (PNA). The system flourished in the country and drew support from local and national departments. SPRAR was legally instituted in 2002 from the reception measures that had been established in the PNA.

A body was also instituted by the Ministry of Interior that would support the local institutions that provided the reception to refugees and asylum seekers. Under the management of the National Association of the Italian Municipality, the established Central Service would provide ‘Information, Promotion, Advice, Monitoring, and Support to the local bodies’ (Servizio Centrale, 2011a).

The local bodies in the SPRAR protection system obtain financial support from the National Funds for Asylum Policies and Services to carry out their activities (SPRAR, 2009, p.6). They also obtain support from various non-governmental organizations and other volunteer individuals and not-for-profit organizations. There is also a fraction of financial support obtained from the European Refugee Fund from the European Commission.

In return, the protection system provides a wide range of services to the refugees and asylum seekers. Apart from the provision of food and accommodation, the protection system also provides guidance and support to help improve the economic and social status of the refugees.

The SPRAR considers two main categories of individuals that can benefit from their projects. The first category comprises individuals who are seeking international protection. In many instances, most of these individuals have applied for international protection and are waiting for a decision following their application. The other category includes those that have been granted protection and are absorbed in the refugee centers or given any other support as may be required (SPRAR, 2009).

Aims of the organization

The SPRAR projects in Italy are intended to remove the burden that is placed on a central government agency in dealing with the refugees and asylum seekers in the country. The systems are aimed at improving the kind of reception that is provided to the refugees in the refugee centers. By involving actors from all sectors of the economy, the protections systems attempt to provide for the needs of the refugees and help them regenerate and develop into responsible and dignified members of a society.

Ethos of the organization

In setting the aims and objectives, an organization has to draw from certain principle and values. The achievement of the above aims and objectives is enhanced by the kind of organizational values and principles that are applied in its activities. These sets of values that define the culture of the organization are called its ethos.

As a system that provides accommodation to individuals that are displaced from their original residential homes the SPRAR protection considers respect for others very essential in performing its activities. Refugees are mainly those that have been forced by circumstances to lose respect for themselves and for others. The system has identified the need to have respect among the refugees in a given camp and between the refugees and the staff that run the protection institutions.

There is need to respect the cultural and ideological differences that are to be witnessed in this new society. Another characteristic that is valued by the system is love and care. The experiences that most of the victims have had, made them loose that sense of love. They often cannot make a meaning of being loved and neither do they offer love to others.

The integrated reception provided by the protection centers can only be possible if the workers at these institutions are caring and loving. The respect for others will be enhanced by the love and empathy that one has for these individuals. In this context, the organization also values the privacy and confidentiality in an individual. It is difficult to exercise privacy in the refugee accommodations due to lack of enough space.

While in the accommodations provided by the center the refugees can form some groups in which they share their experiences. Some of the victims had different violations of human rights such as rape or abduction. It is required that the information about an individual’s experiences remain confidential either with the counseling staff or with the group member who shared the experiences.

The health safety is also considered in the system. In as much as the victims require some form of protection, the system also recognizes the fact that they need to receive services that are sensitive to the health hazards that may emerge. The system has purposed that the refugees be subjected to healthy living conditions including shelter and meals.

The organization also values a sense of understanding and having a feeling for other people. The system recognizes the needs of the employees at different institutions to understand the situations that the victims are undergoing. They need to imagine themselves in such situations and apply the necessary ethnic principles. They need to handle the refugees in a manner that they would appreciate if applied on them.

The principle of equality is also fundamental in the operations at the various centers in the system. In as much as the accommodations draw individuals from diverse situations, the system sees a need to have some equality in the execution of their services. The UNHCR requires that those that are eligible to be granted international protection should not be denied such an opportunity (Redmond, 2005; Feller et al, 2003).

The elements of discrimination should not be evident in the provision of the services to the refugees. This, however, does not preclude the special attention to the victims that are exposed to greater risks and need special assistance.

The pressures and challenges facing the organization

There are challenges that are faced by the protection system in attempting to provide its services to the refugees and asylum seekers. Firstly, despite the financial support that the protection institutions obtain from the government and other donor agencies, the whole system is still faced with the problem of lack of enough funds. There is an increasing need for the provision of the services due to the increasing number of the victims of human rights violations.

Italy has also had issues with the UNHCR over how the refugees have been handled in the last decade (Redmond, 2005). This could be attributed to the fact that the refugee protection in Italy is based on the fundamental norms to promote humanitarian behaviors and that have not been changed into fundamental legislation (Cuko, 2010, p.36).

The increasing number of the refugees also poses a challenge on the organizational management. There is a frequent need to restructure the organization at the institutions that provide the protection services to the refugees to be able to accommodate the growing population. There is need to optimize the resources that are available while not lowering the quality of the services that are offered by the institutions (SPRAR, 2009).

There is a constant need to establish or acquire more facilities. Besides, the maintenance of the existing facilities like houses also poses challenges to SPRAR and the supporting agencies. Another problem that is faced by the system is the diverse needs of the asylum seekers and the refugees. These individuals have undergone different experiences and need different kinds of attention.

Some of the refugees are adults who have undergone some training and have skills that can be applied in some sectors of the economy. Others are adults but lack basic skills that could be applied in the economic fields whereas others are minors that need education alongside accommodation and food. Similarly, there are those that criticized the government and escaped a planned assassination by the top government officials.

These individuals have different levels of exposure to more risks and need to be handled differently. The diverse needs of the refugees and asylum seekers are, thus, a challenge in an attempt to standardize the conditions at the refugee reception institutions. There is a problem in caring for differently vulnerable individuals (SPRAR, 2009, p.4).

In the refugee camps, the refugees could also develop further complications that add on the cost of their accommodation. While at the establishment, I encountered a woman who was diagnosed with cancer when under protection by the SPRAR. The woman who was already engaged in some occupation was forced to leave her job and obtain good care. Fortunately, the protection system managed to help her and she is currently fit to take on a job.

There are cases that are hard to deal with and perhaps the standard procedures of managing them had not been developed by the system. Other than diverse needs of the refugees, some cases proved difficult to handle when I was at the organization. There was a young woman who had been sexually abused.

This experience seemed to have had permanent psychological damage on the woman. Despite the care provided at the centers, the woman showed no signs of improvement. One other critical case was a man who had also had ugly experiences like imprisonment and torture. When in the country, he was also charged for theft.

The care that was provided to him at the centers seemed not to provide a good therapy. He later moved on to stay in France. Such unique cases are hard to handle and no standard procedures may be developed to manage them. The cultural diversity among the asylum seekers and the refugees is also a challenge that the system faces. The refugee reception centers receive victims from many different countries with the most diverse cultures.

These victims with different cultural backgrounds have to be made to be one society and co-inhabit some niche. The individuals also have different lifestyles. There is a difficulty in developing a common organizational culture based on this diversity. There is need to cultivate in the refugees the need to respect and be able to accommodate the other cultures.

Another challenge is the language barrier and the difference in the educational systems of Italy and the refugees’ countries of origin. In training such refugees as an attempt to help them make the ends meet, it would be required that they first learn the local language. While this may be advantageous to the refugee, it adds on the cost of the reception of the refugees by the protection centers.

The difference in the educational system also impedes the attempt to model the refugees who had undergone some professional training before the flight to apply their knowledge and skills in the local setting. Cases have been seen where a professional refugee is not able to apply his or her professional knowledge and skills as they are in Italy. Such individuals are forced to start adapting to the system in Italy before they can apply their skills and expertise.

The other challenges include the irregular migratory patterns that make the planning processes difficult in Italy (Redmond, 2009). The SPRAR has a problem in identifying the asylum seekers. The organization is well aware of the greater number of vulnerable individuals who need accommodation and other forms of protection. There is, perhaps, a barrier between the institutions and the vulnerable children.

This may not allow for the identification of this category. A report in 2009 had showed that about 200 minors had been absorbed into the centers that support the asylum seekers (SPRAR, 2009, p.3). This number was observed to be far less than the expected number of the vulnerable children that need support.

Available opportunities

The SPRAR protection system also has certain opportunities that could be exploited to enhance their service delivery. An analysis of the historical politics on the emigrants into the country as well as the patterns that had been recorded earlier can help in developing a system that is more effective.

Although the country has witnessed different political views on migration (Puggioni, 2006) the challenges that an organization faces and the attempts to provide their solution can often create some useful opportunities. The system has noticed that some vulnerable individuals are not under their protection and could get into more danger.

The need to provide an explanation to this scenario has called for a combined effort of the SPRAR and the other governmental and non-governmental bodies. With such a commitment, it is necessary to develop new ideas and obtain useful materials to help maintain the protection system (SPRAR, 2009).

Organizational strategies and tactics

To achieve the goals that have been set, the SPRAR protection system has adopted a number of strategies that have seen the system succeed in many instances. Firstly, the system includes a wide range of actors from the public and private sectors. The actors include NGOs, various departments of the government, the non-profit organizations, charity groups, and individual volunteers.

The Ministry of Interior and Local Authorities is particularly involved in promoting the activities of SPRAR (Servizio Centrale, 2011b). There exists a strong connection between all these actors and the local managing bodies. This ensures that there is free flow of resources from the central government to the individual local bodies. The collaboration between the local government and the non-governmental organization was necessary to solve the financial problems (Finotelli, 2004).

Another effective strategy that has been applied by the system is the use of a decentralized system (Servizio Centrale, 2011b). SPRAR developed an idea that was also seen in Germany. This involved empowering the local authority in developing asylum policies to deal with the problems of the refugees (Finotelli, 2004).

The management of funds and other resources would be difficult if the reception of the refugees were to be performed at the national level. The increased diversity would make the management of such camps cumbersome. There are certain needs of the refugees that may be common in some region. Thus, the decentralization of the services enables proper mitigation of such local problems.

The organization leads the nation in marking the World Refugee Day every year. This annual event is carried out in different countries of the world to focus on various issues affecting the refugees internationally. SPRAR had established an asylum seekers program in Sardinia in 2007 under the management of Association Cooperation and Confrontation “La Collina”.

The organization carried out the last year event in Cagliari, a city in the island of Sardinia. In the event, the refugees were involved in various activities like theatre shows aimed at improving cohesion. The theme for the last year’s event was “Home: A safe place to start.” This was meant to restore hope in the refugees who still had difficulties in traveling back home.

The local authorities that managed the systems at the lower levels opted for an integrated reception for the refugees (SPRAR, 2009). The protection system purposed to provide the immediate and the long-term solutions to the problems of the refugees in the camps. They do not only provide the refugees with food and accommodation but also offer other services of social and economic significance to the refugees.

There are language lessons imparted at certain stages to help the refugees learn the systems in Italy. The adult refugees who have some professional qualifications need to adapt to the Italian system and this is easily achieved through learning the language. There are professional training offered to the refugees that can enable them earn a living.

Sporting activities are also included for the youthful refugees that can help identify some unexploited talents. The local authorities have also demonstrated their commitments to promoting the integrated reception projects. The commitments of the stakeholders and other actors at the local level have been a key factor towards realizing the objectives of the SPRAR system.

This has enabled the implementation of the integrated reception projects in the refugee centre. There is a good coordination between the different local bodies. This has supported the initiatives to help the refugees regain their status in the society in accordance with the United Nations objectives and goals implemented through the UNHCR, which has been to resettle refugees back to their original countries after the end of a crisis (Mklebust, 1997).

The system is concerned with the spiritual, moral, psychological, and different other aspects of growth in the individuals in the centers. Thus, irresponsible behaviors like alcoholism and drug abuse are not tolerated in the camp. A case occurred while at the center whereby a refugee in the camp grew violent and attacked others after taking alcohol.

The management did not spare the individual despite his poor social and economic status. The individual was arrested and charged alongside the dealer who sold drugs to the refugees. The protection systems are sensitive to the diverse needs of the refugees and asylum seekers. These individuals have varied problems that need to be addressed differently.

There are special considerations given to the victims living with HIV/AIDS. Another special group that needs the attention of the protection system is minors who are not accompanied by their parents. It is always easy to accept and approve the vulnerability of such minors to more dangers and their need for protection.

The protection systems in Italy have provided the minors with the opportunities to develop into full human beings. They have had opportunities to learn Italian and study other professional subjects that can enable them earn a living independently. Some of the minors have had a chance to be registered as citizens of the country (SPRAR, 2009).

Some achievements in the organization

Despite the problems and challenges that have impeded the operation of the system, there are certain achievements that can be pointed out so far. Firstly, the system has succeeded in coming up with a mechanism which collectively helps in fighting for the rights of the refugees. It has managed to draw the attention of different individuals from various sectors to help collectively in reinstating the asylum seekers to their respectable human status in the society.

The system has also succeeded in developing a multicultural society that recognizes the cultural diversity among the different members. By holding on the values like love and respect for others, the workers in the various local bodies have managed to establish an effective environment for the cohabitation of different cultures.

The refugees in the accomodations are not supposed to stay there for a lifetime. The camp should harbor the refugees for a limited time period of six months while the long term solutions to their problems are being sought. The dynamic situations that may force individuals to flee their countries are still evident and more refugees are expected in the camps.

There is then a need to ease the congestion at the centers. As a way of relieving the refugee centers of the pressure that could be exerted due to the increasing flow, it is necessary that the refugees that have obtained the required protection including training and guidance be resettled elsewhere. The system assists various individuals or families and releases them when they are fit to survive independently.

During the integrated reception, the victims have to prove their ability and willingness to be self-reliant. The system has succeeded in successfully training adults and resettling the individuals afresh (SPRAR, 2009). Such individuals will be role models to others in the camps and could be used as reference points by the staff during guidance and training.

A case was witnessed where an individual was provided with resources by SPRAR to reestablish himself. The individual managed the resources successfully and started a new life in Cagliari. The organization has also gone a milestone in promoting education among the minors in the camps (SPRAR, 2009). The system has seen an increased number of the minors attending educational institutions.

The education provided at these institutions prepares the minors to meet their social and economic needs when they grow up. They also enable the children to learn how the Italian systems like language and culture that are necessary for an individual staying in the country works. This also encourages an individual who would want to obtain the Italian citizenship after he is fully established.

The guidance provided at the centers enable the minors to handle the difficult situations that may reemerge in the future. In the learning process, sporting activities that can help the children identify their specific talents are also involved.

The role and place of the host organization in the wider human rights movement

The issues on human rights are currently of concern by the international governmental and non-governmental organizations (Henkin, 1979). The human rights movements are concerned with ensuring that justice is practiced to all individuals across the cultures. It also aims at upholding all the cultures protecting those minors vis-à-vis the mainstream ones (Welch, 2001).

The organization has played key roles in promoting human rights movement in Italy in the recent years. In the first place, the move to provide an integrated reception to the refugees enables these individuals to realize their dreams that were long lost due to their previous displacement and past traumas. These individuals have all the rights that any other human being has.

The individuals have the right to life, self-expression, freedom of speech, security, education, health services and even participation in national issues just like the others. The violation of such rights is the main concern of the human rights movements. By the integrated reception, SPRAR promotes the human rights movement in ensuring that justice is practiced to the refugees.

Secondly, the strategy that has been applied by SPRAR in collaborating with the central government and the local authority has manifested a system of governance that is effective in all the social organizations. The system has thus been adopted by the other areas within Italy (SPRAR, 2009).

Concluding remarks and recommendations

The organization can be accredited in establishing a mechanism that does not only provide a remedial solution to the problems faced by the refugees but also develops the refugees into individuals that can survive independently. The system has succeeded in helping establish new families from the refugee camps. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done to manage the refugees and the situations that may force individuals to seek refuge elsewhere.

Firstly, it is important to focus on the original roots of the situations that result into refugees. The system should link up with the governments and the other authorities from the countries of origin of the refugees. The respective governments are better placed to solve the crises that would force a section of the population to move outside the country.

The national agencies need to comply with the provisions of the international organizations like the UNHCR to establish effective ways of determining the causes of the flow of refugees from some given geographical areas. Italy was seen to violate the provisions of the UNHCR by sending refugees from Libya back to their country (Redmond, 2009). Most of these governments have subsidiaries that deal with the violation of human rights.

By involving the law-enforcers and following the legal procedures that are established by each government, the cases of violation of human rights can be minimized. There are situations that may be identified by the governments but the immediate solution fails due to lack of enough resources. The system needs to collaborate with more donor agencies, political bodies, and commercial businesses to provide immediate assistance to victims that have suffered some violation.

Reference List

Cuko, S. 2010. The Human Rights of Refugees: the Italian Solution Aalborg University. Web.

Feller, E. et al. 2003. Refugee protection in international law: UNHCR’s global consultations on international protection. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Finotelli, C., 2004. The reception of refugees in Italy and in Germany: local strategies for global problems. ISTR Sixth International Conference. Web.

Henkin, L., 1979. The rights of man today. London: Taylor & Francis.

Mklebust, R., 1997. . Web.

Puggioni, R., 2006. : encountering Kurdish refugees in Italy. Encountering Kurdish refugees, Vol 54, No. 2. Web.

Redmond, R., 2005. Italy: UNHCR deeply concerned about Lampedusa deportations of Libyans. Web.

Redmond, R., 2009. . Web.

Selm-Thorburn, J., 1998. Refugee protection in Europe: lessons of the Yugoslav crisis. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Servizio Centrale. 2011. History of the Reception System. Web.

Servizio Centrale. 2011. SPRAR. Web.

SPRAR- Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees. 2009. Summary of the 2008-2009 Report. Web.

Welch, C., 2001. NGOs and human rights: promise and performance. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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