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Italy launches first official migrant integration plan: Five things you need to know

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Italy launches first official migrant integration plan: Five things you need to know
People sit outside a migrant assistance centre in Ventimiglia. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
11:00 CEST+02:00
The Italian government on Tuesday presented its first official plan for the integration of migrants, with key objectives such as teaching respect for women and the Italian language to new arrivals in the country both on the agenda.

Interior Minister Marco Minniti said the ministry's goal was "to erase the word 'emergency' which is so often put together with the word 'immigration".

Speaking in Rome, he outlined three ways the government hopes to do this: through deals with Libya and other African countries aimed at managing migration, through a 'welcoming policy' in Italy, and through encouraging and facilitation integration with the newly announced National Integration Plan.

Rather than targeting all migrants, the plan is aimed specifically at people holding refugee or subsidiary protection status, of which there are almost 75,000 in Italy.

In return for agreeing to respect Italian values and play an active part in their new communities by working, volunteering, and socializing, migrants in this group will be put on waiting lists for homes and jobs. The plan has been financed with EU funds and put together with collaboration from various government ministries, local authorities, and non-governmental organizations.

Here are five of the key elements of the plan, which can be read in full (in Italian) at the ministry's website.

Italian values

Migrants signing up to the project agree to adhere to Italian values as set out in the Constitution, including the separation of state and religion, and gender equality.

Minitti defined integration as "a point of mutual renegotiation" and said that "an integrated country is a safer country". The Italian government also pledged to ensure freedom of religion and access to initiatives facilitating the migrants' inclusion in society. 

It will also encourage "active citizenship", for example local volunteering or signing up to the national civil service, and provide facilities to encourage socialization among minors, in order to stop them slipping through the net and also to help tackle Islamophobia within Italian communities.

READ ALSO: Italian town must remove 'Christian values' signs

How do Muslim immigrants feel about life in Italy?

Muslim men praying near Rome's Colosseum in 2016. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP

Language 

"Learning the Italian language is a right but also a duty" for new arrivals in the country, the plan states. Migrants will be required to sign up to language classes held in reception centres while under-18-year-olds must be enrolled in the Italian school system.

In return, the state will recognize qualifications obtained in migrants' home countries, offer testing to ensure they are enrolled in the correct level of language course, and give special support to those who are illiterate when they arrive in Italy.

READ ALSO: This app is helping refugee children speak Italian

Housing

The government has committed to extending the housing options available to migrants when they leave reception centres, by including holders of international protection status (this includes refugees) in regional authorities' emergency housing plans.

The plan also calls for migrants to be "distributed equally across the territory" in order to make the initiatives sustainable and avoid overcrowding in particular regions or towns.

READ MORE: Italy's overcrowded migrant centres leave children vulnerable, warns report


'We are refugees, not terrorists' reads this banner at a protest following the eviction of hundreds of people, many of them refugees, from a Rome building. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Jobs

Unemployment remains high in Italy following the financial crisis, and is disproportionately elevated among foreigners. In the new plan, the government commits to promoting careers guidance, training and apprenticeship schemes for migrants, and offering specialized support to vulnerable categories including women.

READ ALSO: 'Italy's immigrants are trapped in low-paid jobs'

Healthcare

While healthcare is already provided for asylum seekers in Italy, under the new plan the government pledges to acknowledge the vulnerability of many people in this category, and pay particular attention to mental health, people with disabilities, female genital mutilation, and victims of gendered violence.

 

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