The Swiss Refugee Council, Member of ECRE, has released a report, Italy: Reception Conditions – Current situation of asylum seekers and recognised refugees, in particular Dublin returnees (Italien: Aufnahmebedingungen – Aktuelle Situation von Asylsuchenden und Schutzberechtigten, insbesondere Dublin-Rückkehrenden), outlining its deep concern about the reception of asylum seekers and recognised refugees, including those granted status based on humanitarian grounds, who are sent back to Italy. Recognised refugees are no longer granted access to accommodation centres, social assistance or other assistance, as they are able to work and thus considered self-sufficient. However, the situation on the ground shows that in reality they – in particular women and families with children – often end up homeless, vulnerable or unable to provide for their basic needs. They encounter obstacles in accessing the labour market and Italy’s weak social assistance system, with long waiting periods, often leaves them without a social net.

In terms of the reception of asylum seekers upon their return, those who have already benefited from Italy’s reception system no longer have a right to be accommodated in one of Italy’s reception centres, unless places are available. As the lack of sufficient reception places is a major problem in Italy, in practice many asylum seekers cannot access these vital services. Due to the increasing number of asylum seekers, an ERF funded project, providing an additional 220 temporary accommodation places to Dublin asylum seekers, which is, however, not available to recognised refugees.

The Swiss Refugee Council stressed that the catastrophe in Lampedusa has illustrated that there is an urgent need for solidarity among EU Member States and Switzerland, as well as the need for Switzerland to put an immediate end to transfers of persons where they would face homelessness in that country without perspective of self-sufficiency.

The Swiss Refugee Council reported that 83.9% of Dublin transfers to Italy – including both asylum seekers and recognised refugees – are issued by Switzerland, making up a total of 3,000 persons out of 3,551 persons.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 18 October 2013
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