Since 2011 and the “Arab Spring”, a large number of migrants,
including people with international protection needs, have reached
Italian coastal areas. While the figures have dropped from the level
of 62 695 people in 2011, they are starting to rise again, with
increasing numbers of Syrians making their way to Italy.
Italy has shown itself, once again, ill-prepared for what
appears to be a new surge of mixed migration flows, and appears
to have learnt few, if any, lessons from its experiences in 2011.
The Italian authorities must develop a coherent policy to
detect, identify, inform and register irregular migrants, asylum
seekers and refugees and to send back individuals not in need of
international protection. They also have to ensure that the conditions
in reception and detention centres meet international standards. Furthermore,
the Italian authorities need to ensure that people seek asylum in
Italy, as their first country of arrival, in order to prevent asylum
forum shopping elsewhere in Europe.
Member States of the Council of Europe are called upon to
meet, without exception, their obligations of rescue at sea and
to establish clear rules of engagement to ensure that those who
are rescued at sea can seek asylum and are not caught up in bureaucratic
wrangling over the appropriate destination for their disembarkation.