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Face to marginalisation with SAI, Caritas Ambrosiana

Every HRG student spends time on studying the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism or human rights treaty bodies' reports, thinking about the "usefulness" of those reports. Well, I personally found evidence about this "usefulness" during my internship at Servizio Accoglienza Immigrati (SAI): a free of cost help desk for immigrants of Caritas Ambrosiana, in Milan, Italy. Indeed, while researching SAI's users’ countries of origin, I surfed through HR's reports to look for fundamental elements to complete the user's asylum seeker procedure.

I did my curricular internship at SAI from March to September 2021, and I collaborated with the lawyer Elisabetta Cimoli from the legal department. My task was to support her in extrajudicial procedures concerning the renewal or the request of residence permits for foreign citizens or concerning the request of Italian citizenship for children of legally residing immigrants. In more details, my daily work consisted in various activities: conducting oral interviews with applicants; assisting foreign citizens in filling out bureaucratic forms; helping in retrieving documents; facilitating the Italian/English oral and written translation of personal stories. Furthermore, I researched on different topics, including: living conditions and socio-economic conditions of applicants, both in Italy and in the countries of origin, and respect for human rights in the countries of origin of people seeking international protection.

Andrea’s colleagues in the SAI office of Caritas Ambrosina, Milan, Italy, May 2021.

To me, working unpaid at SAI was an opportunity to acknowledge migrants’ daily needs. Then, I learnt the procedures and the bureaucratic stuff needed for requesting several types of residence permit and international protection according to Italian and European laws. I was able to apply the knowledge acquired during the Master's degree, especially with the analysis and the research on the respect and protection of human rights. For instance, I referred several times to websites and reports regarding the respect and implementation of international treaties (i.e. ICCPR) indicated by the faculty professors. Besides that, I have learnt how to conduct oral interviews with people from different cultures, while respecting their privacy and sensitivity, and I have increased my ability to work in a team to achieve common goals.

In conclusion, the internship at SAI was really useful to prove how HRG students can make the difference using their knowledge to directly support people. Furthermore, the internship showed me how marginalized contexts are closer to us than we expect. We can clearly see exclusion in a border-like situation, such as in Lampedusa or in Turkey, but we might not see as much clearly that also our cities create exclusive privileges and possibilities. Could we define the "Arcella bridge" as a border? The internship at SAI raised this and other questions in my mind, as well as a new perspective on human rights, and I'm so grateful to have been part of the SAI and CARITAS community.

Written by Andrea Premarini

Edited by Giulia Rosina

Photo courtesy of Andrea Premarini


Andrea ended the HRG Master's degree in October 2021, with a thesis entitled "The role of international organisation and major powers during South Sudan crisis", supervised by Professor L. Mechi (History of International Organisations).


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