Lost in translation – new report by Internews

Lost in Translation, a new report by Internews, analyses the information gap for migrants and refugees as they travel across Italy upon arrival in Europe. The report is based on an assessment conducted during the month of April 2017 in Italy, in a number of formal reception facilities (Lampedusa, Agrigento, Catania) and informal centres (Ventimiglia and Rome).

The report finds that most people embark on their journey without proper information on what lies ahead, and when asked if they would do the trip again, a majority said they would not. Violence and death mark every step of the way, and while estimates of how many people die in the Mediterranean exist, there is no way to know for certain how many more die before, while crossing the Sahara desert, in Libya or in countries of transit. Hardship in Libya is a particularly harrowing case: the majority of people who have to spend some time in the country experience rape, extortion and extreme violence.

According to the report, the disembarkation points in Italy are crucial spots where much more information is needed. While the provision of information is codified in the Italian legal system, its implementation is much looser and uneven, largely depending on the capacities available at any specific moment. Information on the asylum system is mostly provided by leaflets being handed to people when they disembark or in reception centres, without taking into account specific language needs, or the fact that not everybody may be in a position to read the information.

Lack of trust in the authorities is extremely common, due to the length and uncertain nature of the procedures, which are not properly explained, difficult to understand and may leave people feeling abandoned for many months before they receive any communication.

Information is currently provided mostly in a one-way top-down manner, while the report argues that the implementation of a two-way communication would be a positive shift forward, with the use of the so-called Communication with Communities approach – CwC.

A section of the report deals with the role of media in providing information, highlighting how Italian media uses migration as a political tool, and how the inaccurate and partial reporting of migration issues leads to prejudices, hostilities and a general negative climate in society against migrants and refugees. Internews advocates for a stronger role of local media as a mean to facilitate and improve the engagement between refugee/migrant communities and host communities.


Internews is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard.

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