Arrival in Rome of 49 people from Ukraine, March 28, 2022 | Photo: ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI
Arrival in Rome of 49 people from Ukraine, March 28, 2022 | Photo: ANSA/CLAUDIO PERI

According to the United Nations, by the end of the year up to 8.3 million people could have fled the conflict in Ukraine. In Italy, 101,204 Ukrainians have reportedly crossed the border, according to the latest data. Seven in 10 have applied for protection.

It's as if the entire population of a country as large of Switzerland suddenly sought refuge in neighboring countries: According to the UN, by the end of the year the number of people fleeing war in Ukraine could reach 8.3 million -- twice the estimate that was made initially. A reported 90% will be women and children, given that men under the age of 60 can't leave the country.

Since February 24, the day in which the Russian offensive began, 5.3 million have already left everything behind in an unprecedented exodus since World War Two. An additional 7.7 have been internally displaced.

Over half of those who left the country -- 2.9 million people -- were welcomed by Poland.

Over 101,000 people in Italy -- 7 in 10 applying for protection

In Italy, the latest figures released by the interior ministry showed that 101,204 people have crossed the border (date of writing April 27, ed. note). Seven in 10 have requested protection, according to the ministry. They include 65,000 who applied for temporary EU protection, activated for the first time for refugees from Ukraine, while a small percentage requested asylum, special protection or something else.

The request for protection is a necessary step to obtain some form of support, given that the majority of refugees will probably not be able to return home soon.

Most Ukrainians have been welcomed by relatives and acquaintances, counting on an exceptional mobilization. Others have been hosted by NGOs and 10,000 have been placed in Extraordinary Reception Centers (CAS) or in Italy's System of reception and integration (SAI).

Unaccompanied minors in Italy are just over 3,000: 2,600 live with relatives and some 500 stay in special facilities. The numbers in Italy are small compared to more exposed countries like Poland and Germany, but the situation is still raising concern among mayors.

Italian municipalities ask to boost hosting capacity

The mayor of Prato (Tuscany), Matteo Biffoni, who is the immigration delegate of the Association of Italian municipalities ANCI, said the hosting capacity must be increased "in order not to go haywire", during an audition at the Lower House on Tuesday, April 26.

The ongoing emergency has led to the arrival of "a flow of women, seniors and children, categories that are particularly vulnerable" and the situation is "unlikely to be short-lived", Biffoni noted. For this reason, according to ANCI, it is necessary to increase the number of places in the SAI system.

Funding has been pledged for 4,350 ordinary places for Ukrainian refugees but "more than twice" are necessary to host them, the organization said.

In particular, it requested an additional 3,000 places for the most vulnerable, including minors and people who need health assistance.

Meanwhile, municipalities have asked for "an extraordinary fund" of 230 million euros to host unaccompanied minors, who are often very small children. This principle has been acknowledged in an amendment passed by the governing majority to the last decree, said Biffoni, although he said work needs to be done "on figures".

Finally, fearing further costs for municipalities, mayors have also questioned the additional 15,000 places to host refugees across the territory to be implemented by municipalities and NGOS, for which the civil protection has gathered expressions of interest until April 22.

Due to the way the hosting system has been designed, it is necessary to also find alternative accommodation for people currently staying in hotels.

The commission evaluating applications set up by the head of the civil protection department, Fabrizio Curcio, will have to complete the last procedures to vet requirements.

The same timing has been set for a platform to provide financial aid to those who have found accommodation on their own. It is necessary to pay the individual contribution of 300 euros a month, for three months, for adults (150 euros for children), for a maximum of 60,000 people.


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