This week a coalition of NGOs has reiterated their concerns over the conditions at the Emergency Reception Centre (CAS) in Cona close to Venice amid controversial government plans aiming to improve the reception conditions in the country.

ECRE Member ASGI together with four other Italian NGOs stated that the centre is overcrowded, and reiterated concerns over access to basic services, legal assistance and the presence of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. At the beginning of the month, legal action resulted in an interim decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) demanding clarification by the Italian government regarding conditions and unlawful presence of minors in the centre. Meanwhile, concerns persist over more than 30 other unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are still present in the CAS in Cone, in breach of national law and the wrong registration of children as adults.

The CAS in Cona is one of Italy’s first line reception centres, as the Italian reception system is divided into first line reception centres for people that whole claims need to be registered and second-line reception centres, SPRA that accommodate asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. Those centres are better equipped and run by a publicly funded network of local authorities and NGOs.

In a quest to encourage municipalities to host more asylum seekers and participate in the SPRA system, the Italian government laid out its plan this week to pay €500 per asylum seeker to each municipality without defining how the money is to be used. This move has been criticised by Caterina Bove, a lawyer at ASGI, who told ECRE: “This is unlikely to into higher quality reception standards compatible with those of the SPAR system.” According to the ASGI, the solution lies in adapting reception standards CAS centres to those lied down for SPRA centres. Without adapting standards the closure of existing CAS centres will not be feasible and more emergency shelters opened.

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Photo: ASGI