ANSA photo showing some migrants eating inside a Red Cross tent camp in Rome
ANSA photo showing some migrants eating inside a Red Cross tent camp in Rome

A recent article by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR together with data project Open Migration used fact-checking and figures to debunk four of the main falsehoods regarding refugees in Italy - from being hosted in luxury hotels, to a daily stipend of 35 euros per migrants, smartphones are a sign of there wealth, and there is currently an "invasion" of foreigners.

The article, written by Francesca Romana Genoviva, first tackles the myth that "undocumented migrants are housed in luxury hotels". The report explains that "it's true that sometimes refugees are hosted in hotels and pensions, but these are exceptions and they certainly aren't luxurious". When places available in Italy's Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR) "aren't sufficient, the Exceptional Reception Centres (CAS) come into play. All available deals on beds are evaluated, even those that come from cooperatives, hotels, or individuals", the article explains, highlighting that "the accommodations offered don't include saunas and room service". 

35 euros a day isn't 'salary' but average reception expense

 Another common myth in Italy is that migrants get "a 35-euro-a-day salary, plus room and board, without working", a misunderstanding that comes from the amount the Italian Interior Ministry calculated as the average daily expense for hosting adult migrants. The ministry gives "to local entities (and not to refugees) amounts based on the estimate that, for hosting an adult migrant, it takes about 35 euros a day (45 for minors).These 35 euros serve to pay for services, meals, and furnishing basic necessities". Those requesting protection "only get pocket money, which is 2.50 euros a day up to a maximum of 7.50 euros per day per family, and a single telephone credit of 15 euros upon arrival". 

Smartphone essential for facing voyage

 In Italy oftentimes the controversy over migrants and refugees regards the fact that nearly all of them own a smartphone, which some say is "proof that they aren't poor". The article explains, however, that migrants "take dangerous and very long routes" and that "a cell phone is therefore essential for communication with family" and exchanging "'service' information related to the journey and the possible risks", which is why "the cell phone is the first asset that people bring to Italy and to their entrance in the reception structures". 

No 'invasion', migrants enhance area and support economy 

Finally, among the falsehoods commonly heard is that Italy is facing a true "invasion" by migrants and that the migrants are dedicated to criminal activity or aren't productive. The article uses data to show that, on the contrary, "in many cases refugees have contributed to enhancing the area" in which they were received, and in some cases alowed for the repopulation of areas that had been deserted, also supporting these areas economically. Regarding the crime rate among refugees "there aren't any statistics" and in general "as of August 31, out of 54,195 inmates, 18,311 were foreigners, about a third of the total", the majority Moroccans, Romanians, Albanians, and Tunisians. 

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