Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has claimed that asylum seekers in his country are routinely offered free mobile phones and money. The comments came in response to reports of inhuman treatment of migrants in Italy. Is what Salvini said correct?
Salvini's comments came in response to a controversial report by the Italian daily newspaper Avvenire. It said that judges in France and Britain have been blocking migrant repatriations to Italy because of inhuman treatment there.
Salvini told RAI state radio that there was nothing "inhuman" about the Italian asylum reception system. He claimed that migrants receive "35 euros per day, food, accommodation, cigarettes, a mobile phone, and a stay in Italy for 18 months without raising a finger."
This, however, is not correct. Asylum seekers do not receive 35 euros per day or a free mobile phone.
Asylum seekers in Italy have a right to a daily cash allowance of only around 2.50 euros, according to a 2018 report by Italy's Court of Auditors on public expenditure for migrants, They also receive basic clothing items, medicine, and a phone card.
"They certainly aren't given free mobile phones," Daniela Di Capua, manager of the SPRAR network of reception centers for asylum seekers and refugees, told the German DPA news agency.
She added that asylum seekers "are not cavemen. They too own mobile phones or it is the first thing they buy for the simple reason they need to keep in touch with home."
The Salvini Decree
Under Salvini, the general mood toward migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Italy has shifted considerably. Italy's asylum laws have also undergone major changes which, according to Salvini's critics, could lead to thousands of migrants being denied any state help in the future.
Last month, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic criticized the Italian government's new security-and-migration decree introduced by the interior minister. She told the Italian ANSA news agency that the decree raised "several concerns regarding the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers."
"It is a step back in terms of the access to protection for people who could face, or have already faced, serious threats," Mijatovic said.