In October 2019, 2,016 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea, most of whom departed from Libya. On three occasions , a port of safety was allocated in Italy only following agreement by other countries to receive new arrivals.
A number of NGO rescue vessels were operational in the Central Mediterranean in October, including the Ocean Viking, the Open Arms, and the Alan Kurdi.
On 4 October, a list of safe countries of origin was introduced by way of an interministerial decree signed by the Ministers of Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Justice.
■ In October 2019, 2,016 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea, compared to 1,007 in the same period last year. This is the second highest number of monthly sea arrivals this year so far, following a peak of 2,498 in the previous month. Different than previous months, in October, the vast majority (i.e. 45%) of persons arriving by sea departed from Libya, followed by 20% from Tunisia, 17% from Turkey, 10% from Greece, and 8% from Algeria.
The most common nationalities of sea arrivals in October were Tunisia, followed by Pakistan, Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Bangladesh, Somalia, Eritrea, and Nigeria. Between 1 January and 31 October, 9,649 persons arrived in Italy by sea, a 56% decrease compared to the numbers of persons reaching Italian shores in the same period last year (22,031). Most refugees and migrants arriving by sea since the beginning of 2019 originated from Tunisia (27%), Pakistan (12%), Côte d'Ivoire (11%), Algeria (10%), Iraq (8%), Sudan (4%), Bangladesh (4%), Islamic Republic of Iran (4%), Guinea (2%), and Morocco (2%). For further information on sea arrivals in Italy, please refer to the Italy Sea Arrivals Dashboard – October 2019.
■ Various NGO rescue vessels were operational in the Central Mediterranean throughout October, including the Ocean Viking, run by NGOs SOS Mediterranée and MSF, and the Open Arms, run by NGO Proactiva Open Arms. The Alan Kurdi vessel, run by NGO Sea Eye, also returned at sea in October. On three occasions in October, Italian authorities allocated a disembarkation port for refugees and migrants rescued on the high seas only following the agreement by other Member States – namely, France, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal – to receive some among new arrivals. In late October, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese met with representatives of NGOs conducting search and rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean, with a view to opening a dialogue with them. Meanwhile, a resolution calling on the European Union to step up search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean was not approved before the European Parliament.
■ Incidents at sea continued to occur in October, with reports of refugees and migrants dying or going missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italian shores. On 6 October, an incident occurred off the Lampedusa coast when a wooden boat carrying some 50 persons capsized: 22 individuals were rescued and brought to the Lampedusa hotspot by the Italian Coast Guard and Tax and Customs Police, while the corpses of 13 women were retrieved. Furthermore, some 15 refugees and migrants are thought to have gone missing as a result of the incident. The wooden boat had departed from Sfax, Tunisia, and mainly carried Ivoirian and Tunisian nationals. For further information on dead and missing persons, please refer to the Dead and Missing at Sea Dashboard – October 2019.
■ The vast majority of refugees and migrants who reached Italy by sea in October, i.e. over 850 individuals, disembarked in Lampedusa. As a result, the island’s hotspot was significantly overcrowded, with peaks of over 400 persons being accommodated there, against an official capacity of 96. Concerns thus arose in connection with the adequacy of reception conditions and services provision. During the month, groups of new arrivals were transferred from the Lampedusa hotspot to the Pozzallo hotspot for the purposes of undergoing identification procedures, so to reduce pressure in Lampedusa.
■ On 4 October 2019, the Ministers of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Justice signed an interministerial decree which introduced a list of safe countries of origin, as envisaged by Law 132/2018. As a result, asylum applicants originating from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Capo Verde, Ghana, Kosovo, Morocco, North Macedonia, Montenegro,
Senegal, Serbia, Tunisia, and Ukraine shall undergo accelerated asylum procedures on the basis of a presumption that their countries of origin are safe.
■ According to the latest available data, 25,584 new asylum applications were lodged in Italy between 1 January and 30 September 2019, a 42% decrease compared to the number of applications submitted in the same period last year (43,880). In 2019 so far, first-time claimants more commonly originated from Pakistan (19%), Nigeria (8%), Bangladesh (6%),
Ukraine (5%), El Salvador (5%), Peru (5%), Morocco (4%), Senegal (4%), Albania (3%),
India (3%) and Venezuela (3%).1 Reportedly, authorities in various Italian regions request evidence of a residence address in order to allow asylum-seekers to lodge a claim, hindering effective access to asylum procedures.
■ As of 31 October 2019, 96,862 asylum-seekers and refugees were accommodated in reception facilities across Italy. Approximately 74% of them (71,935 persons) were accommodated in first-line reception facilities, predominantly located in Lombardy, EmiliaRomagna, and Piedmont. An additional 25% (24,577 persons) were accommodated in second-line facilities belonging to the SIPROIMI network, most of which are located in Sicily and Latium. As of 31 October 2019, 350 persons were accommodated in hotspots, all of whom were in Sicily.