Migrants inside buildings near the train station in Trieste, August 25, 2020 | Photo: Mauro Donato / ANSA
Migrants inside buildings near the train station in Trieste, August 25, 2020 | Photo: Mauro Donato / ANSA

The number of migrants reaching northeastern Italy is "under control" but the situation in the city of Trieste "is quite complicated," the UNHCR representative for Italy declared in a recent interview with ANSA.

The number of migrants reaching the city of Trieste, in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, via the Balkan route ''remains very much under control but coronavirus is complicating the situation," the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino, Chiara Cardoletti, told ANSA in a recent interview.

"If we compare Sicily to Trieste, we can say that in the latter the system of arrivals is much less structured," noted Cardoletti, pointing out that "needs remain extremely visible and there is a lot of confusion regarding readmissions."

In the interview, the official spoke about her visit to the northern Italian cities of Trieste, Milan and Turin to examine the situation at Italy's northern borders. There, the UNHCR representative met with refugees, asylum seekers, NGOs, associations and institutions.

Complicated situation

"The situation is quite complicated, both the services and the response provided to people who arrive is not the most adequate - more should be done," said Cardoletti.

When asked about the issue of readmissions in Slovenia, Cardoletti admitted ''there are problems." She stressed that she was due to discuss these issues with the Interior Minister later this week.

"We have decided to boost our presence in Trieste. People who arrive through the Balkan route are in a situation of extreme vulnerability, they are victims of grave abuses and have often dealt with dramatic conditions both at a psychological and physical level. Today we learned that a youth who reached the border between Italy and Slovenia two days ago died at the Hospital of Udine. The tragic event shows the very frail condition of the people who arrive. There is a real need for urgent action," Cardoletti concluded.

High points too

Cardoletti pointed out though that there were also some high points in the north of the country. "These cities, in particular Milan, have undergone a really interesting process on how to manage integration and hosting," Cardoletti said.

She cited as an example the center for unaccompanied foreign minors in via Zendrini in Milan, where "we saw a really beautiful situation, an important example of how the city reorganized its response in smaller hosting centers that provide individual assistance to children."

In Turin, the official continued "I saw a great job done by organizations working with refugees. It is great to see them talk with pride about their contribution to the society in which they are living."

Cardoletti said that she believed "Italy is an incubator for good practices that must be expanded, institutionalized and made accessible across all national territory. In this context, refugees can be a vehicle to help institutions offer better responses to new arrivals," said the representative of the UN agency.

New policies for Italy

Cardoletti said the UNHCR believes a recent reform of Italy's migrants-security decrees will benefit the country. "We are grateful to the government for the revision of the decree, which will not only provide an easier life for the beneficiaries of protection or for asylum seekers but for Italian society as a whole, because if we make integration difficult the problem of badly managed immigration will grow," she stressed.

Italy will also be affected by the revision of the European asylum system under new proposals by the European Commission for a solidarity pact.

"We are happy that the European Union has taken this initiative. The text, which we have seen, is less ambitious than we expected, but it will be discussed at a parliamentary level, with the possibility of improving it."

Cardoletti noted that the pact had not introduced anything really fundamental "like the automatic redistribution of those arriving on national territory," but she said she would withhold judgement until the mechanisms it had proposed were "fully understood."


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