Italy Tells Refugees: Don’t Risk the Journey

refugeesIt’s noon on a blistering summer day in a narrow lane near Rome’s Tiburtina train station.

Crowded along one shaded wall, dozens of people squat on cardboard or perch on plastic chairs, eating pasta or fruit salad from paper plates. Nearby, under a small open tent, volunteers dish out the food that’s been donated by households in the neighborhood.

Most of the people camped out here have risked violence, sexual assault, slave labor, and indeed, their lives, to escape extreme poverty or political oppression back home. They’ve paid smugglers in Libya, after treacherous deserts crossings, and been rescued south of Italy from flimsy rubber boats.

These are the kind of people that a hard-hitting new communication campaign recently launched by the Italian Interior Ministry and the International Organization for Migration is starting to target. Called Aware Migrant, the campaign is geared at mainly young men and women who have left their homes due to extreme poverty and who likely will not qualify for refugee status in Europe.

The message of the campaign? Don’t risk the journey here.

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