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Rome Reports

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Rome's Jesuit Centro Astalli, a safe-haven for 15,000 refugees in Italy


For more than 35 years, Centro Astalli has been a safe haven for refugees, offering assistance and accompaniment for those who have fled their homeland. As the Jesuit refugee headquarters in Italy, they help 15,000 people in Rome and 30,000 in the other locations around Italy. 

The Communications Director, Donatella Parisi, has worked there 15 years, seeing countless refugees come through. 

DONATELLA PARISI
Communication Director, Centro Astalli

“We seek to insert the refugee into society in as little time as possible, strengthened by a belief that refugees are a gift and a valuable treasure for our society.”

One person who agrees with this viewpoint is Pope Francis, who has publicly spoken about refugees many times. 

POPE FRANCIS
Oct. 23, 2018

“Welcoming the immigrant is a biblical command 'because you yourself were an immigrant in Egypt.'”

In September 2013, he even made a surprise visit to the center. Donatella explained that during his time there, he greeted and thanked the volunteers and workers. 

DONATELLA PARISI
Communication Director, Centro Astalli

“It was obviously a beautiful and important moment, given the fact that he greeted the refugees and spoke to them. Having a Jesuit Pope, having Pope Francis, is for us, a very important thing since he never misses the opportunity to defend immigrants and refugees.”

She insisted that most of the people arrive from Africa, but also there have been many from Pakistan. In fact, she states that now more and more are arriving from South America, countries such as Venezuela and Colombia.

DONATELLA PARISI
Communication Director, Centro Astalli

“We welcome everyone who is in forced migration. Independent of their origin, political views or religion. I can tell you that 80 percent of people we serve are Muslim people. We are a center of Jesuits, so the organization and inspiration is Catholic. For us, religious dialogue is a strong point.

The center offers language courses, assistance for navigating the Italian government and encouragement for all who pass through their doors, so everyone can have a successful future.