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Dissecting the Controversy of Volunteer Projects for Asylum Seekers

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The Daily Mail online recently published a Reuters article, “Good job or taking work? Volunteering by asylum seekers in Italy praised and panned.” It provides an interesting outline of the pros and cons of an initiative in Italy which offers migrants from sub-Saharan Africa – who are living in temporary reception centers – the option of spending some time doing community service work. This work involves such assignments as litter clean up, both to pass time productively and to “give back” to the communities which have taken them in. The article is a very balanced piece putting forward opposing views, summarized like this: “Frustrated at long waits while asylum applications are handled, many migrants have been more than happy to get involved in volunteer work. But this has irked some critics who see it as either exploiting migrant labour or taking jobs from Italians.”

The controversy is real and all sides have valid points. Co-authors Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis explore it all in this issue’s Points of View.