A group of migrants is being assisted with anti-Covid procedures during a landing in Roccella Jonica in Calabria, July 6, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/QdS
A group of migrants is being assisted with anti-Covid procedures during a landing in Roccella Jonica in Calabria, July 6, 2021 | Photo: ANSA/QdS

According to a report by the Italian statistics bureau ISTAT, the pandemic caused a decrease in migration to Italy in 2020.

The border closures in the first year of the pandemic caused a drop in migration to Italy, according to the 2021 ISTAT Annual Report, which was presented on July 9.

The report was analysed in an accompanying document made available on the Italian government's migrant integration website.

According to the document, entry flows in 2020 decreased by 30.6% compared to the average of the previous five years. The decrease in entries wasn't the same across geographic regions, both in general as well as during the year.

Data from the report

In the months of January and February 2020, prior to the health emergency, there was an average decrease of 8.8% in entries compared to the average of the years 2015 to 2019, concentrated in arrivals from Africa (down 37.4%), while entries from Latin America rose by just as much.

During the first wave of the pandemic, from March to May, there was a consistent decrease in migration (down 66.3% overall) for all countries of origin.

In the transition phase and during the second wave, registrations from aboard had more contained decreases, with a slight recovery of flows from North America.

Those from African countries still had a larger than average decrease. In general, during 2020, the migrant flow from Gambia and Mali decreased 67%, from Nigeria and Ghana 54%.

In terms of arrivals from Asia, the highest decreases were for the Philippines and China.

The decrease from Romania wasn't as strong (down 40%), as it has for years been the main country of migration from abroad.

The number of new stay permits issued (another figure used by ISTAT to estimate new arrivals of non-EU citizens) also saw a significant slowdown last year.

Compared to the recent high of 263,000 in 2017, which went down to 177,000 in 2019, in 2020 there was a drop of more than 40%.

In addition to the border closures, the report said delays in administrative practices also played a role. In the second half of 2020, after a decrease in the first part of the year, arrivals saw a recovery that, however, didn't reflect in the number of new stay permits. These flows will be incorporated in data for 2021.

Data on legalization

ISTAT also cited the government's legalisation programme last year, in which 207,542 non-EU citizens applied, of whom 176,848 (85.2%) for family services (122,247 in domestic help and 54,601 for assistance to non-self-sufficient people) and 30,694 (14.8%) for employment in farming and fishing.

Also in this case, the effects on stay permits will emerge later, because there were very few applications processed in 2020 that resulted in the issuing of a stay permit that year.


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