Migrants at Rome's Stazione Tiburtina | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI
Migrants at Rome's Stazione Tiburtina | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation of migrants in Italy, where there has been a decrease in the foreign population but where the foreigners remaining have grown poorer, according to the 2021 report on immigration published by Caritas and Migrantes.

Italy now officially has 300,000 fewer immigrants than it did a year ago. And figures show that the pandemic made immigrants poorer -- many have lost their jobs and they began being vaccinated much later than the rest of the population. Only one in two foreigners in the country is currently vaccinated despite the fact that many are involved in work in homes or in contact with the public.

These figures are contained in the 2021 report on immigration curated by the Caritas and Migrantes organizations.

The trend towards a decrease in the Italian population has spread to that of the population of foreign origins in the country in 2021: it dropped by 5.1% (from 5,306,548 in 2020 to the current 5,035,643).

For those who remain, the economic situation has worsened: one in every four family now lives in poverty (26.7%), compared with 6% of Italian families. There are currently 568,000 households of foreign origins living in Italy below the poverty line.

'We are aware of the absence of these people'

"We are aware of the absence of these people," Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) chief Gualtiero Bassetti said in relation to the drop in foreigners in Italy.

"I see them work on roofs, because perhaps Italian prefers other jobs. I see them put asphalt on the roads, because perhaps Italians prefer other jobs. They go to pick tomatoes and onions.Perhaps we should regret not having welcomed them as we should have," Cardinal Bassetti, who is the archbishop of Perugia, said during the presentation of the report.

Migrants considered 'virus-spreaders'

Some 165,528 foreigners in Italy caught COVID at their workplaces since the official beginning of the pandemic on March 31, 2021, according to INAIL reports. Of them, 69.3% were women and only 30.7% men.

The two organizations that curated the report, both of which part of the CEI, said that immigrants in Italy are getting vaccinated "with a substantial delay" compared with Italian nationals. Despite their situation of greater fragility, they are seen by many as "virus-spreaders".

The public health emergency has, in many senses, replaced the "emergencies" linked to migrant mobility: such as the "migrant boat landing emergency," the "Lampedusa emergency," and the "humanitarian emergency," they said.

However, some continue to consider foreign nationals in Italy to be connected to "a higher risk of spreading the virus," the report stated.

"Migrants are not the ones carrying the virus. If they get sick in our country, perhaps we are the ones giving them the virus when they meet with us," said Health Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri.


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