Italy’s electoral candidates urged to improve support for refugee integration

by zoejardiniere

18.01.2013 As Italy’s general election approaches, UNHCR has called on all candidates for the new administration to include the reform of the Italian asylum system in their party platforms.

UNHCR strongly recommends improving reception conditions and integration measures for refugees, by enlarging the current capacity for reception, strengthening monitoring systems to control the standard of conditions as well as removing bureaucratic obstacles to longer-term residency, recognition of qualifications and access to the labour market and housing.

A further area of serious concern to UNHCR is access to the territory and to asylum procedures. In particular, the recommendations highlight the importance of respecting the principle of non-refoulement in migration control agreements with third countries and raises questions about Italy’s readmission agreement with Libya. UNHCR also regretted the extension of the maximum time period for detention of migrants to 18 months and called for the protection of children in adherence with the principle of the best interests of the child.

The Italian Refugee Council (CIR) expressed its support for the recommendations, emphasizing that Italy only hosts around 58,000 refugees, which is modest both on a global and a European scale.

Referring to recent research on Roads to Integration, CIR pointed out that there were very serious shortcomings in the integration for refugees in Italy. From the group of refugees surveyed, CIR found 44.6% were unemployed, with those who have found work predominantly working in unskilled positions, despite having qualifications. A significant proportion of the refugees surveyed still do not live in stable independent housing after three years of living in the country and many live in inadequate conditions such as squats.

For further information:–         UNHCR, Call on Political Actors to Include Asylum in their Agendas (in Italian), 14 January 2013

–         ECRE Weekly Bulletin, JRS: EU-North Africa Relationship puts Migrants’ Rights at Risk, 7 December 2012.