UNHCR Italy Factsheet, April 2019

Between 1 January and 31 March 2019, 8,390 new asylum applications were lodged in Italy, including 16 per cent from individuals originating from Latin American countries.

Despite standoffs over the docking of rescue vessels in Italy and increased restrictions against NGO rescue boats, 255 refugees and migrants reached Italian shores in April 2019.

On 29 April 2019, 146 refugees were evacuated from Libya to Italy in a joint operation between UNHCR, and Italian and Libyan authorities


72%* Percentage of 2019 sea arrivals informed by UNHCR staff upon disembarkation

5,003* Referrals of sea arrivals with specific needs to appropriate services since January 2015

607* Monitoring visits to reception facilities since April 2013

Operational Context

According to the latest available data, in the first three months of 2019, there were 8,390 new asylum applications in Italy. First-time claimants more commonly originated from Pakistan, Ukraine, El Salvador, Peru, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Albania, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal. Asylum-seekers from Latin American countries (El Salvador, Peru, and Venezuela) constitute approximately 16 per cent of all applicants in the January-March 2019 period, a notable development compared to the same period last year, when asylumseekers from the three countries above accounted for five per cent of the total number of applications only. This is consistent with the worldwide exponential increase of the number of asylum applications by individuals from Latin American countries, in particular by Venezuelans.

As of 30 April, 118,533 asylum-seekers were accommodated in reception facilities across Italy. Approximately half of them were hosted in five Italian regions (Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Campania, Latium, and Piedmont). 2 About half of the Italian Prefectures have recently issued calls for tender for the management of reception facilities in their territories, pursuant to the 2018 contract specifications for reception facilities. These calls relate to some 95,700 places in reception facilities nationwide: approximately half of these are in smaller, flat-like facilities dispersed across the national territory, while the remaining half are in larger facilities accommodating between 50 and 300 individuals. Various entities that were previously engaged in the management of reception centres decided not to respond to the calls for tender, or to issue judicial proceedings, questioning the excessive reduction of the daily rate paid by Prefectures, resulting in the inability to provide dignified reception conditions.

On 29 April, 146 refugees originating from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria were evacuated from Libya to Italy in a joint operation between UNHCR, and Italian and Libyan authorities. All of the evacuees had been previously held in detention facilities in Libya and were transferred to the UNHCR Gathering and Departure Facility in Tripoli prior to departure to Italy. The group included particularly vulnerable individuals who endured abuse and violence in Libya, as well as 46 children who were separated from their families.

Italy is the first country to have stepped forward to receive evacuees from Libya since the recent violence began. UNHCR urged the international community to offer similar evacuations for refugees caught up in the conflict in Libya.

In April, 255 refugees and migrants reached Italian shores, which is at par with arrivals by sea in the previous month (262). Notably, there were no arrivals by sea of individuals departing from Libya in April. Over half (52 per cent) of monthly sea arrivals departed from Tunisia, while 30 per cent and 12 per cent departed from Turkey and Greece, respectively. An additional 7 per cent of monthly sea arrivals embarked in Algeria reaching shore in Sardinia. In the first four months of the year, there were 779 sea arrivals, a 92 per cent decrease compared to the numbers of persons reaching Italian shore in the same period last year (9,467). Most refugees and migrants arriving by sea since the beginning of 2019 originated from Tunisia (32 per cent), Algeria (12 per cent), Iraq (10 per cent), Pakistan (7 per cent), Bangladesh (7 per cent), Guinea (5 per cent), Senegal (4 per cent), Somalia (3 per cent), CAte d'Ivoire (3 per cent), and Islamic Republic of Iran (3 per cent). In 2019 so far, 37 per cent of sea arrivals in Italy departed from Tunisia, followed by 27 per cent from Libya, 16 per cent from Algeria, 12 per cent from Turkey, and 8 per cent from Greece. In the first four months of the year, on the route from Libya to Italy, one person died for every three who made it to European shores.

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees