A plan to reform the Italian reception system was announced at the annual meeting of the Ministry of Interior and the National Association of Italian Municipalities (Anci) held on 14 October 2016 in Bari.

As detailed in the AIDA report on Italy, the reception system is in theory distinguished between first-line and second-line reception. Newly arriving asylum seekers and migrants are placed in Regional Hubs, including emergency reception centres (CAS), managed by the Ministry of Interior and Prefectures. Subsequently, second-line reception is provided through the system for the protection of asylum seekers and refugees (SPRAR), managed by local municipalities.

According to the latest statistics of the Ministry of Interior, as of 14 October, a total 165,177 persons are reported to be residing in the Italian reception system. Only 22,971 persons are staying in SPRAR structures, while as many as 127,721 persons, more than 77% of the total population, are residing in CAS. The largest share of reception places are situated in Lombardia, followed by Sicily, Piemonte and Lazio.

The plan envisages the phasing out of the CAS, with a view to the consolidation of a uniform reception system across the country. This system would entail an expansion of the SPRAR system, through equitable distribution of asylum seekers and migrants across 8,000 municipalities in the country.

One important challenge to the implementation of the plan will be ensuring participation of municipalities in the SPRAR system, given that, at the moment, municipalities are not obliged to take part in SPRAR. Another way to ensure equitable distribution of reception places across the country could be the mainstreaming of reception into the obligations of municipalities in the context of social services.

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ECRE thanks Caterina Bove of ASGI, AIDA expert for Italy, for providing additional information.

*This article was first published at AIDA.