Hope and sacrifice – Italy’s migrant story

Hope and sacrifice – Italy’s migrant story

Every year thousands of migrants arrive in Italy. Many of them come seeking better opportunities. Others seek to escape the violence and misery in their native lands. Migrants in Italy have many stories to tell.

Refugees

All roads lead to Rome. The old saying holds true for migrants and refugees from a wide catchment area. Italy has a strategic location with direct land routes from many countries in Europe, and sea routes from Africa and the Middle East. Its close proximity to Africa makes it a prime destination for African migrants. According to The Wall Street Journal, more than 500,000 migrants cross these borders every year.  They seek entry into Italy through humanitarian corridors. Italy has several programs to assist these vulnerable people and prevent further loss of human life. The country is actively trying to integrate refugees into its society.

Government provisions

The EU implemented the Dublin Regulation in 2003 to solve the problem of illegal and uncontrolled immigration. The regulation states that migrants would stay in the first country they enter until their asylum formalities are completed. Italy is geographically more accessible to migrants. This makes it one of the most preferred countries for starting a new life. The initial days understandably involve struggle. Migrants receive assistance from government programs to help make them aware about Italian culture and society. Asylum requests continue to increase every year. According to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) asylum requests in the EU increased from 40,360 in 2011 to 130,000 in 2019.

Migrants

There are currently over 2.5 million foreign workers in Italy. Milan is the top destination for foreign migrants with 14.5% of Italy’s migrant population. This is followed by Rome (12.8%), Brescia (12.4%), Turin (9.8%), and Naples (4.4%). Romanians are the largest migrant community in the country at 1.1 million. Next are the Albanians (0.47 million) and Moroccans (0.45 million).

Quality of life

Migrants risk life and limb to make it to safe havens like Italy. Too many succumb to the perils of arduous land and sea passages. The refugee camps in Italy are a respite from these hardships. The camps have communal kitchens and temporary accommodations. They provide communication channels which the migrants use to connect with their families back home.  The Italian Red Cross, Croce Rossa Italiana or CRI has its hands full supporting these migrants. Ensuring the necessities of life for them is an uphill task. From refugee camps the migrants are sent to processing centres to get their asylum formalities underway. During this transition period many of the migrants work at the local community centres to help the government run the refugee camps.

Opportunities

The priority for migrants in Italy is to integrate into Italian society. This necessitates a basic knowledge of the Italian language. The other prerequisite is to possess skills relevant to available jobs in the country. Vast numbers of migrants are working hard toward these goals. Many have acquired the necessary qualifications over time. These migrants now work as caregivers, guides, translators, teachers, construction workers, agricultural labourers, and restaurant employees.

Remittances

Italy is a land of hope and dreams for the migrants that arrive in the country. An important goal for most migrants is to ensure a better life for their families. To this end they work hard to earn more in Italy and send remittances back to their loved ones. Remittances are often the only source of income for these families to ensure the basic necessities of life. Remittance senders rely on trusted channels such as the Ria Money Transfer App to send remittances. The Bank of Italy provides a list of countries which receive sizable remittances from Italy. Romania tops the list and receives 15% of all remittances sent from Italy annually. This is followed by Bangladesh (10%), and the Philippines (7%). India, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Peru and Morocco are some of the other countries that feature high on this list.

Long term prospects

Many of the migrants in Italy are young men and women in their 20s. Their motivation to leave home was to escape political and economic turmoil. After receiving asylum in Italy they are now focused on long term integration. The Italian government provides support via many programs that offer counselling, Italian language classes, and legal advice. There is every indication that these migrants and refugees are on the road to becoming productive citizens of Italy and of the world.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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