I’ve seen a lot of nonsense talked about the refugee crisis in Europe. This uses Italy as an example but applies to all of Europe. Take a look at some FACTS!
How many immigrants are currently being processed in Italy?
Right now there are 93,608 migrants in the Italian system awaiting processing, some housed in government centres and some in temporary regional centres set up to handle the emergency.
Who are the immigrants currently arriving in Italy?
So far in 2015 they are mainly Eritreans (29,019), Nigerians (13,788), Somalians (8,559), Sudanese (6,745) and Syrians (6.324). These nationalities constitute two-thirds of the total. Eritreans, Sudanese and Somalians almost all qualify for refugee status when processed, as do Syrians.
How many asylum applications are from men?
I have found Eurostat figures for the EU as a whole in 2014, but not for Italy specifically. Males exceed females in asylum applications in all age ranges except the over-65’s. Males peak in the 18-34 age category, where 77% of all asylum applications come from men and just 23% from women.
How many immigrants have died trying to reach Italy?
At least 1,750 people drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Italy in the first 4 months of 2015. This was thirty times higher than the same period the previous year.
How much does the crisis cost Italy?
Italy spent 628 million Euros saving and processing migrants in 2014 and has budgeted 800 million for 2015. (I am deliberately saying migrants not refugees in this instance, because some of them do not qualify for refugee status and are expelled.) Put another way, each refugee costs the Italian state 35 Euros per day. The European Union has pledged Italy 560 million Euros over the next 5 years to help handle immigrants.
Which Italian regions are processing the immigrants?
These are the top ten regions in Italy receiving and processing refugees: Sicily 16%, Lombardy 13%, Lazio 9%, Campania 8%, Piedmont 7%, Veneto 7%, Puglia 6%, Tuscany 6%, Emilia-Romagna 6%, and Calabria 5%.
Does Italy have too many refugees?
Italy’s population consists of one refugee per 1,000 Italians, which is far below the Swedish level of 11 refugees per 1,000 swedes or even the French level of 3.5 refugees per 1,000 Frenchmen. Lebanon, which borders Syria, has 1,2 million refugees, which is a quarter of the population of the country.
How many migrants do qualify for refugee status?
Italy is more generous than the EU average of 44.7%, and currently accepts 58.5% of its applications as immigrants. Part of the reason for this is cultural. Northern European countries have a black and white system, whereby applicants are either accepted as refugees or not. Italy, with its deep affinity for shades of grey, has three separate categories within which it accepts immigrants as “refugees”. One is clear refugee status, one is probably refugee status, and the third category could be described as “You’re probably not a refugee but we bet it’s horrible where you came from so we won’t send you back.”
By law, unaccompanied minors are never refused. A worryingly large number of unaccompanied children began entering Italy from Tunisia and Morocco in 2014.
What happens if the application for asylum is refused?
Applicants can appeal within 15 days and the final decision will be made by tribunal within 3 months. If this is refused, they are deported.
How does deportation take place?
People are deported by aeroplane back to the country they came from. The cost to the Italian state is 5 airline tickets, one for the person being deported and return tickets for the two guards who accompany him or her. This only happens if they go through the formal application system, which mean being detained in a center and not allowed to leave until their status has been decided.
If they sneak into the country and do not declare their presence to the authorities (being legally classified as clandestini) they often get away with living in Italy for years; if found by the authorities, they are not deported but imprisoned for 1 to 5 years instead.
Between 2000 and 2011, the number of foreigners in Italian prisons increased by 339.7% whilst the overall prison population in Italy rose by a far more modest 55.1%. We do not know how many of these foreign prisoners were imprisoned for actual crimes and how many simply for being illegal immigants.
Are people more likely to gain asylum in one EU country than another?
Yes. The variation is huge. For example, Sweden says yes to 76.6% of asylum seekers whereas Hungary says yes to only 9.4%.
This data I have given so far is ambiguous, because we don’t know if Sweden gets more applications from genuine refugees whereas Hungary gets a lot of applications from non-refugees. We can get closer to the truth by looking at relative statistics on applications from one single country.
Sweden accepts 99.8% of asylum applications from Syrians, whereas Hungary accepts only 69.2% of them. Italy is lower even than Hungary, accepting only 64,3% of asylum applications from Syrians. France (95,6%) and Germany (93,6%) are high like Sweden.
These statistics makes an absolute mockery of the claims by German publication Der Spiegel that Italy has been letting all and sundry enter the EU with refugee status as a trick to force Germany and other nations to do something about the refugee crisis.
I think this makes it clear that the EU needs to improve consistency in the way each member country handles refugees and evaluates their asylum applications, to unite efforts in funding the aid effort, and to review the outdated agreement that refugees must stay in the first safe country they reach.
Have you got any ideas on how they should do it?
The source for most of this data was Italian newspaper La Repubblica