Italy introduces new law that leaves migrants homeless and unprotected

Many migrants in Italy are being driven on to the streets and left with no protection after the parliament approved a new immigration and security law. The “Salvini decree”, which takes its nickname from Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister, was approved on 28 November 2018.

In a bid to reduce the immigrant population in Italy, the new legislation introduces tough measures, including: the abolition of humanitarian protection for those not eligible for refugee status; the extension of the maximum detention period for migrants in repatriation centres; the allocation of additional funds for deportation; and the extension of the list of crimes for which refugee status can be revoked.

The decree also modifies the eligibility criteria for accommodation in asylum seeker and refugee reception centres. From now onwards, only unaccompanied minors and those who qualify for international protection can be housed in the facilities.

Just days after the law came into effect, the interior ministry’s representative in Crotone, a province in the region of Calabria, ordered the eviction of 24 migrants from a local reception centre. The group of expelled migrants included a couple with a five-month-old baby, a boy with mental health problems, and two victims of sex trafficking.

“When the police came to tell us that we couldn’t stay there anymore, I couldn’t believe my ears. They took all of our belongings and escorted us out,” explained Blessing, a 31-year-old victim of sex trafficking from Nigeria, in an interview with the UK-based newspaper, The Guardian. She added: “This is outrageous. I have a legal permit to stay. And soon I may not have a roof over my head. I’m really frightened.”

The Red Cross, in partnership with the town hall and other charities, have tried to accommodate the evicted in temporary shelters. Describing what he had witnessed in Crotone as “crazy”, the head of Red Cross in the area, Francesco Parisi said: “You can’t just leave vulnerable people on the street. This is a violation of human rights.”

Asylum seekers in Potenza, a city in the region of Basilicata, and Caserta, a province in the region of Campania, were also recently expelled from centres. Hundreds more are expected to receive the same treatment in the coming weeks.

Carlotta Sami, the spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, in southern Europe, spoke out against the evictions, saying: “We fail to understand why, at this precise moment, even those individuals with legal protection have been told to leave. The decree is not retroactive, so why are they telling them to leave?”

“What we have been witnessing recently leads us to believe that there will be negative effects not only on vulnerable people, but also on Italian society generally as people enter into a formally illegal status.”

TMP – 14/12/2018

Photo: Kristi Blokhin/Shutterstock. African refugee homeless man lying on the sidewalk. Rome, Italy – 4 September 2018.