Watch: Nearly 2,500 African Migrants Arrive in Italy in Just 5 Days

Young rescued migrants wait to leave the Sea-Watch 4 rescue boat to board a ferry on which some 350 migrants will be under quarantine, off the coast of Palermo, Sicily, Italy, on September 02, 2020. - More than 350 migrants including those rescued by a vessel sponsored by British street …
THOMAS LOHNES/AFP via Getty

ROME — In the first five days of November, 2,462 irregular immigrants landed in Italy despite strict new anti-COVID regulations, Italian media reported Monday.

One video circulating on social media shows a large rubber dinghy loaded with young African males preparing to land in Lampedusa. The migrants smile and one young man waves a scarf with “Italia” written on it. The voice of someone off camera encourages them to look happy and invites them to repeat the words “freedom, freedom, Italy, freedom.”

According to official statistics, 29,952 irregular migrants have arrived in Italy by sea since the beginning of 2020, but no one knows exactly how many moved on to other European countries, how many were repatriated, and how many remained in Italy. As of this date in 2019, fewer than a third as many irregular migrants (9,944) had disembarked in Italy.

In the five years from 2014 to 2019, 498,524 migrants applied for asylum in Italy, claiming to be fleeing from threats to life and freedom, from wars and persecution, and asserting the legal status of refugees and all have been included in the reception system that offers them free food, clothing, healthcare, lodging, Italian lessons, and 35 euros a day in petty cash for small expenses until their request is definitively approved or rejected.

Asylum seekers also benefit from interpreters, cultural mediators, legal operators, social workers and other professionals considered useful for their psychophysical well-being. In the case of unaccompanied minors, social educators, children’s rights experts, and a legal guardian are added.

If the outcome of the asylum request is positive, the asylum seeker obtains international protection, has the right to reside in Italy and to enter a six-month integration program that can be extended for another six months.

If the outcome is negative, the applicant has 30 days to appeal to the Supreme Court, a practice entirely paid by the state including legal fees, interpreters, and cultural mediators.

Between 2015 and 2019, 435,068 asylum requests were submitted, and of these 430,382 were examined and processed. Legal refugee status was granted to 8 percent of applicants and subsidiary protection to 10 percent.

Therefore, a total of 18 percent — less than one in five — of asylum seekers obtained international protection, leading the leader of Italy’s Lega party to describe the vast majority as “fake refugees.”

Many of the migrants arriving on Italian shores flee the system and simply disappear. One of these, a 21-year-old Tunisian named Brahim Issaoui, notoriously arrived on the island of Lampedusa on September 20, then proceeded to the southern Italian city of Bari before traveling north to Nice, France.

On 29 October, Mr. Issaoui entered the Basilica of Notre Dame in Nice brandishing a knife and a copy of the Quran and proceeded to stab three people to death while repeating “Allahu akhbar” (Allah is greater). The man was shot by local police and is currently hospitalized in Nice and has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.

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