a group of migrants at the port of Cagliari, awaiting transfer to a reception centre | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA
a group of migrants at the port of Cagliari, awaiting transfer to a reception centre | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA

A total of seven out of 10 migrants in Italy are still being hosted in the special (emergency) migrant reception system, despite the fact that arrivals decreased by 42% between 2018 and 2020.

In a report released on Wednesday, February 9, ActionAid and Openpolis found that despite a significant decrease in migrant arrivals in recent years, seven out of 10 people are currently still hosted in the special emergency system.

Between 2018 and 2020, the period looked at in the report, migrant arrivals decreased by 42%. Even though they increased in 2021 compared to 2020, they still remained at low levels comparable to those of 2011.

Small centers penalized the most

The report revealed that small centers were the most penalized, losing almost 22,000 places in two years. Large centres, on the other hand, became even bigger, currently with 110 places available on average, compared to 98 in 2018.

With the decrease in arrivals there would have been an opportunity to focus on more widespread and effective hospitality, the report said, but the data reflect that this apparently didn't occur.

In 2020, refugees and asylum seekers in reception represented only 0.13% of the Italian population.

Municipalities affected by reception centers made up 38.5% of the total in 2018, but in 2020 this decreased to 25%.

Meanwhile, the centrality of larger centers increased. The 16 most populous centers house 18.2% of all migrants in the system, but two years earlier that figure was 14.2%.

On average, centers in Rome and Milan are much larger than in the rest of the country. In Milan, the average capacity of the centers is about 10 times the national average. In the special centres, the per-capita cost per day for each guest went from approximately €35 euros to about €26, with consequences in terms of service quality and effectiveness.

Widespread reception could have been incentivised after decrease

"With a drop in attendance of these proportions, the widespread reception of people in small towns could have been easily encouraged," said ActionAid's Fabrizio Coresi, programme expert on migration, and Cristiano Maugeri, programme developer.

"This potentially positive outcome didn't occur, due to a political choice inherent in the Security Decree (the 'migration and security decree' championed by former interior minister Matteo Salvini, ed. note). It dismantled the public system of widespread reception, encouraged the emergency approach of special centres, cut services for integration, and let needy people fall into conditions of undocumented residency and extreme social marginalization," said Coresi.

Also read: 'Salvini decree': 15,000 spots lost in small migrant centers in Italy

Note: The report, titled "Centres of Italy 2021", is available for online consultation and download at the monitoring platform centriditalia.it


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