23 May 2014

The updated AIDA Report on Italy, compiled by ECRE member organisation, Italian Council for Refugee (CIR), highlights a number of changes regarding the treatment of unaccompanied children and the alignment of the rights for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. These amendments were brought about by the implementation of the recast Qualification Directive.

With the Legislative Decree implementing the Directive, Italy has adopted more protective provisions for unaccompanied children during their asylum procedures. The level of maturity and the personal development of the child shall be taken into account in evaluating their reliability, while the principle of the best interest of the child is now expressly mentioned in the legislation and its respect shall be a priority.

Furthermore, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection now enjoy the same rights as those with refugee status, in particular with regard to the right to family reunification and to the duration of the residence permit, meaning that the validity of the residence permit for subsidiary protection holders has been extended from 3 to 5 years.

Italy has also enlarged the national reception system (SPRAR) in order to respond to the increased flows of migrants arriving on the Italian territory. At present, the number of financed reception places amounts to 13,020 within the SPRAR system. An additional 6,490 places will be made available over the three-year period 2014-2016.

Finally, the report notes that the military and humanitarian operation “Mare Nostrum”, which was launched by the Italian authorities on 18 October 2013 to prevent the death of migrants at sea, has rescued in the first months of 2014 more than 25,000 persons (out of which 3,034 children). According to Italian Ministry of the Defence, most of them (about two thirds) are possibly refugees.

This report is part of the Asylum Information Database (AIDA), a project of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), in partnership with Forum Refugiés-Cosi, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and the Irish Refugee Council. AIDA focuses on asylum procedures, reception conditions and detention of asylum seekers in EU Member States.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 23 May 2014.
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