Close to 27,000 asylum requests were filed in Italy in 2020 – 39% fewer than in 2019, according to the Italian Refugee Council. Roughly three in four asylum requests examined by Italian authorities were rejected.
The Italian Refugee Council (CIR) released its annual report on Wednesday, revealing that 26,963 asylum requests were filed in Italy in 2020. That's 39% fewer requests than in 2019, when 43,783 requests were filed.
A total of 41,753 requests were examined by Italian asylum authorities in 2020, according to CIR. 76% of them were rejected. Only 11.8% of applicants received refugee status, 10.3% were granted subsidiary protection, and 1.9% were given special protection.
More rejections after Salvini decree
CIR said that the overall protection rate in 2020 dropped by 12% compared to 2018. The organization linked the rise in rejections to policies introduced by former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in the fall of 2020 that were in place until late 2020.
In October 2018, Italy adopted security decrees (colloquially known as the Salvini decree) that in many ways made the Italian asylum system more restrictive.
Two years later, the government introduced a new decree on migration and security that does away with some of the more restrictive asylum policies introduced by the Salvini cabinet. In December of 2020, the parliament passed this decree.
In its report, CIR praised the policy change, saying that the situation is "much better after the reform of the security decrees."
COVID-19 and strict asylum policies
In its report, CIR argued that 2020 had been a particularly difficult year for people seeking asylum in Italy, given that they faced not only the coronavirus pandemic and severe restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19, but also restrictive asylum and migration policies.
CIR said the pandemic also made their work helping refugees and migrants in Italy more difficult and important -- that they "sought to respond to ever more urgent needs" in 2020.
Aid provided to refugees
The organization said that in helped 2,489 people in need of protection in 2020 -- including 1,798 adults, 652 unaccompanied migrants who were underage or had just reached adulthood, and 48 victims of violence.
CIR said that it had hosted 395 people -- including 273 adults and nuclear families, 97 minors, and 25 victims of violence -- in its centers in 2020.
"We provided legal assistance, social accompaniment, and orientation within the territory with information offices funded through conventions with local entities and as part of specific projects," CIR said, "in six regions -- Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily -- to 824 people." The organization also listed that it had "provided 3,406 interventions for assistance" and "intervened to help seasonal migrant workers in the Salento region by providing legal advice to 90 people in the Nardo camp."