Migrants in Palermo, Italy | Photo: Ignazio Marchese/ANSA
Migrants in Palermo, Italy | Photo: Ignazio Marchese/ANSA

The risk of COVID-19 in their country of origin can be considered a reason to grant migrants humanitarian protection in Italy, a Milan court has ruled. Meanwhile, new data shows that more than 34,000 migrants and refugees arrived on Italian shores in 2020.

The civil court of Milan has ruled that the risk of catching COVID-19 in their country of origin can be considered a reason to grant humanitarian protection to migrants that do not meet the requirements for international or subsidiary protection in Italy.

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported this on Sunday, citing ordinances from the previous week.

Coronavirus reason for stay permit?

The decision to grant humanitarian protection will reportedly not be automatic. Assessments will be made on a case-by-case basis, looking at the social and economic consequences caused by the pandemic in a migrant's home country.

The Italian daily said that the rulings were in relation to appeals filed prior to the 2018 Salvini decree -- which has since been modified -- for cases of migrants from several Asian and African countries for whom the court had not granted asylum.

However, in taking into consideration the pandemic as a risk factor, the judges ruled that granting humanitarian protection would be justified. That's because of the high risks that the migrants would face due to the emergence of COVID-19 in their countries of origin, for example because there's not enough in intensive care units and mechanic ventilators or healthcare personnel.

Migrant sea arrivals in Italy

Italian interior ministry data show that from January 1, 2020 to December 24 of this year, a total of 34,001 migrants arrived on Italian coasts. That's almost triple the number recorded in 2019 (11,439).

The nationalities seen most frequently among arrivals were Tunisia (12,847), Bangladesh (4,132), Ivory Coast (1,950), Algeria (1,458), and Pakistan (1,358).

More migrant landings were recorded as the end of the year approached.

About 100 migrants arrived on the shore of the Italian island of Lampedusa over the night between December 25 and December 26. They were taken to the hotspot on the island.


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