The reunification and embrace between Mariam, a Syrian refugee, upon her arrival at Fiumicino airport in Rome, and her children who had already been in Italy for a year, 25 September 2019. | Photo: ANSA/Telenews
The reunification and embrace between Mariam, a Syrian refugee, upon her arrival at Fiumicino airport in Rome, and her children who had already been in Italy for a year, 25 September 2019. | Photo: ANSA/Telenews

The procedures for family reunification for migrants in Italy are taking longer than planned; that's according to a new report by UNHCR in conjunction with Caritas and the Communitas consortium.

A new report by UNHCR in conjunction with Caritas and the Communitas consortium revealed that wait times for family reunification are too long for refugees in Italy. The report was presented in Rome on Wednesday. 

"Although the law stipulates that the entire procedure should be completed within 120 days, the wait times to complete the procedure appear much longer, strongly affecting the process of integration," the report said. 

'Lengthening of times creates risks'

"For international protection beneficiaries, longer waiting times for the procedure and the resulting uncertainty can create further hardships; [for instance] risks for the safety of family members, and, in some cases, end up compromising the procedure itself, perhaps pushing people to attempt alternative ways of being reunited which may not be either legal or safe," explained a spokesperson for the UNHCR. 

The report highlighted "the particular condition of vulnerability faced by many protection beneficiaries in Italy and their family members, who might indirectly be victims of persecutory actions."  The report is based on data gathered through questionnaires given online to workers involved in the reception and protection of international protection holders and workers at migration desks in the prefecture. 

Refugee stories

Data for the report was collected between October and November 2018. A total of 183 questionnaires were returned across 17 different regions in Italy. The report highlighted various stories from refugees, such as that of Hussein from Somalia.

Hussein explained to one of the workers who responded to a questionnaire: "In 2014 I married Yasmin, who I never thought I'd separate from, but shortly after our marriage I was forced to flee because my life was in serious danger, so much so that in Italy I obtained refugee status in 2017."

Sadly it was too difficult for Yasmin to flee with him, said Hussein. "Yasmin didn't come with me; the journey was too dangerous. After I fled, she initially moved to Mogadishu, but she fled from there shortly after, also because of persecution."

Bringing Yasmin to Italy though has proved difficult. "She went to live in Nairobi, Kenya. Once I got settled in Italy I applied for family reunification with Yasmin, and even though I had the 'nulla osta' authorization from the prefecture, the Italian Consulate in Nairobi rejected my application...we are still separated, living on two different continents," Hussein explained. 
 

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