Italian conference to debate century of humanitarian crisis 1915-2015

Posted on on 30 October 2015
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The fate of millions of civilians forced from their homes during the First World War will be discussed at an international conference in Italy next week as Europe again struggles with a major refugee crisis. 

Speakers will 'explore the roots of a contemporary problem' in the mass movements of people across the continent a century ago.

Co-sponsored by the Italian War History Museum, the conference takes place in the town of Rovereto which was caught up in the fighting between Italy and Austria-Hungary.  

Northern Italy was itself the scene of a humanitarian emergency in 1917 when hundreds of thousands of people fled areas occupied by the Central Powers after the rout of the Italian Army at the Battle of Caporetto.

'Extreme poverty'

The conference organisers note: "During the First World War more than 10 million civilians were forced to leave their homes under army pressure and threat of bombing. They lived in extreme poverty for years with little legal protection, suffering xenophobia, violence and abuse.

"A hundred years after the conflict, the scenario has barely changed. The masses of refugees besieging the borders in our globalised world demonstrate how close wars are and how refugees face extreme conditions that have endured for a century."

Conference speakers will examine the plight of First World War refugees in Serbia, Russia, Romania, Lithuania, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Galicia (present day Poland/Ukraine).

The event concludes with a round table discussion entitled '1915-2015: A century of humanitarian emergencies'.

The conference takes place in Rovereto from November 4-6th. It's part of a broader project considering 'Refugees from Trentino in the Great War 1915-1918'. Full details can be found on the website of the Italian War History Museum, Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra.

Information & images supplied by Italian War History Museum

Additonal sources: Wikipedia/various

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News