* Source: Welcome to Europe Guide, ICMC Europe, 2011
Facts & figures
Italy began resettling refugees originating from Iraq after its participation in the EU Fact-Finding Mission to Syria and Jordan that preceded the aforementioned November 2008 Conclusions. The Italian government accepted an ad-hoc agreement to resettle approximately 180 Palestinians from the Al Tanf border camp in Syria in 2009. The Italian Ministry of Interior later returned to Syria to conduct personal interviews with refugees referred for resettlement by the UNHCR. Under this special resettlement programme, 173 refugees have resettled to Italy.
Al-Tanf, along the Iraq-Syria border is considered one of the most untenable camps for Iraqis and Iraqi Palestinians. Palestinian refugees accepted for resettlement to Italy are not just in need of protection because of the situation in camps, they also represent particularly vulnerable groups including elderly, women-at-risk and medical cases. Calabria has voluntarily chosen to resettle refugees but the prospects for integration are not clear. In a region of Italy which has experienced economic difficulties and high unemployment, the need for repopulating is evident. Close monitoring will be required to determine the capability of structures to facilitate the long-term integration of refugees. Resettlement of these groups is still in the early stages; therefore no conclusions can be made about the level of integration or the possibility of engagement in future resettlement schemes.
Legislation & funding
Travel to the Rome is organised by IOM. Groups are greeted at the airport by government representatives, IOM and UNHCR.
Reception & integration
Status upon arrival in the resettlement country and access to citizenship
Refugees immediately apply for asylum in Italy with the Commission for the Recognition of Refugee Status who, upon acceptance of their application, will grant refugee status. For beneficiaries of this programme, the recognition of refugee status takes approximately one or two months. Once status is granted, a renewable five-year residence permit is issued. After ten years of residency in Italy, refugees may apply for citizenship.
Reception process and integration plan
Following the application for asylum, refugees are taken to Calabria the same day. They are accompanied to independent housing in one of two towns, Riace or Caulonia. Calabria has a regional repopulation law which permits resettlement of refugees in towns which have experienced significant losses in population. Integration is funded and coordinated by the Ministry of Interior though projects are implemented by local municipalities.
Role of NGOs/ Role of volunteers
At the time of writing, no NGOs were involved; however a local union has been concerned with the defence of refugees’ rights. Italy’s ad-hoc resettlement scheme followed the guidelines for selection criteria outlined in the November 2008 Conclusions.