Migrants and asylum seekers at the CARA reception centre in Castelnuovo di Porto, Rome | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
Migrants and asylum seekers at the CARA reception centre in Castelnuovo di Porto, Rome | Photo: ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

The non-governmental organization ActionAid in a new report highlights the disappearance of "widespread reception" centers for migrants in Italy following the enactment of the controversial immigration and security decree.

A report by ActionAid and Openpolis titled "The security of exclusion - Centers of Italy 2019" looks at the complex transformation of the Italian migrant reception system in recent years and concludes that the system has undergone negative changes.

The two NGOs highlight some direct consequences following the enactment of the security decree under Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte in autumn 2018. These consequences include a reduction in migrants' rights and a change of perspective on the role of the third sector, which has gone from providing a subsidiarity and support function to one destined to control migrants due to a cut in services for integration. 

Under the new specifications of the security decree, calls for tenders were left deserted, small centres were closed, and transfers began from cities and regions where thousands of places were lost, the report says. 

The first part of "The security of exclusion" was published in November 2019, the second part was published on January 8.

Third sector refuses to participate in calls for tenders 

The report highlights how the cut in services, as a result of the drastic reduction in funds made available for the management of migrant reception centres, provoked the third sector to refuse to participate in new calls for tenders in the reception system. 

One year after the enactment of the security decree, it has become increasingly clear how this refusal has created difficulty for many prefectures in assigning all the places deemed necessary. "The data confirm how the new specifications put widespread reception at a disadvantage," said Livia Zoli, director of the Global Inequality and Migration unit of ActionAid.

'Total absence of programming in reception' 

The report said one of the biggest impacts was the transformation due to new specifications in calls for tenders for the CAS reception centres. The centers became structures where migrants must wait for a decision on their asylum request but at the same time no longer receive support for autonomy and integration. 

Among the three types of centers currently available (single housing units, collective centers of up to 50 places, and centers up to 300 places), the most consistent cuts are those that involve widespread reception through accommodation in apartments. 

ActionAid and Openpolis highlighted how the current reception policies seem to be characterised by a total absence of programming. "Without a comprehensive revision of the system, we will continue to see a short-term policy that relies on the belief that the situation remains constant and the number of landings is limited, misrepresenting the human cost of the agreements with Libya," ActionAid said.

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