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Interior ministry circular on the "relocation" procedure

On 6 October 2015, the interior ministry sent a circular to the prefetti [government envoys responsible for security] outlining the provisional measures for international protection adopted for the benefit of Italy and Greece, including the start of "relocation" procedures. These instructions are in response to the decisions of the European Council meetings held on 14 and 22 September 2015.

Noting that the "uninterrupted flows of people" aiming to enter the EU's territory fleeing "from war and other calamities" have caused many deaths and have led the Commission to include migration among the EU's ten political priorities, including plans for an immediate response. The series of initiatives and measures drawn up as part of the European Agenda on Migration adopted by the Commission on 13 May 2015 attempts to coordinate the EU's internal and external policies, mobilising all its means and resources to improve the management of every aspect of migration movements.

Temporary measures have been adopted within this framework in the field of international protection, for the benefit of Italy and Greece. The "relocation" procedure has been conceived to reduce the migratory pressure on the Italian territory and requires submission by Italy of a "roadmap" and the establishment of "hotspots" in which rescue, first aid, registration and photo-identification operations must be guaranteed.

Asylum seekers "in clear need of protection", belonging to nationalities whose recognition of international protection is above 75% according to the last quarter's Eurostat data, may enter the "relocation" procedure. Migrants of these nationalities (at present Syrians, Eritreans and Iraqis), duly photo-identified and who have formally submitted asylum requests may, in derogation of chapter 3 of the Dublin III regulation, be transferred to the MS of "relocation" to have their application examined there.

The procedure must be completed within two months from when an MS has stated its availability to resettle asylum seekers, except for cases which have been duly provided for in which this time limit may be extended to three and a half months.

The roadmap submitted by Italy has identified the following sites for hotspots: Lampedusa, Pozzallo, Porto Empedocle and Trapani, with a collective capacity of 1,500 places, to which a further 600 places will be added by the end of 2015 in facilities in Augusta and Taranto. The mechanism envisages that all migrants disembark in one of these hotspots, in order for health screening, pre-identification (verifying possible cases of vulnerability), registration and photo-identification operations resulting from illegal entry (Eurodac, category 2) may be guaranteed within 24/48 hours.

Three situations are envisaged as possibly arising in hotspots:

- People who express their will to apply for asylum will generally be transferred to reception centres which exist in Italy to formally submit their international protection applications and to follow the procedure.

- People who belong to nationalities recognised as being "in clear need of protection" will be provided targeted information on the "relocation" procedure, with support from EASO (the European Asylum Support Office) and UNHCR. Due to the quick turnover times required, once they express their wish to apply for asylum, they will be photo-identified directly as Eurodac category 1 cases and transferred to "regional hubs" established for this purpose to formalise their European application form (form C3).

At the same time, the Dublin Unit's National Contact Point will engage in information exchange with other MSs which may serve to complete the procedure which will end with the concerned people's transfer, by flight, to the State they have been assigned to:

- People who do not express a wish to apply for international protection, or to undergo the procedural steps leading to relocation, will be subjected to further checks envisaged by the norms that are in force by the competent police forces.

The procedure is currently being tested, in agreement with the European Commission and MSs, to ensure the system may be fully operative. For this purpose, resettlement may also be possible for people who arrived before adoption of the mentioned measures, based on information sought by the interior ministry's civil liberties and immigration department. Thus, the prefetti are invited to enact a summary information report concerning potential beneficiaries of this procedure who arrived in Italian territory as of 24 March 2015 and are currently held in reception facilities, in coordination with the local police chiefs' offices (questure).

If the outcome is positive, the Central Directorate for civil liberties and immigration will organise, in agreement with the prefetti of Rome and Milan, the transfer of potential "relocation" beneficiaries to these cities. They will be hosted in structures envisaged for the purpose of them filling in the relevant C3 form (and annexes), with support from EASO's experts, before being transferred to reception facilities for asylum applicants, for the time necessary to complete the procedure, until they are transferred to their destination country. Moreover, the prefetti are requested to identify a referent as an operative coordination point with the interior ministry's civil liberties and immigration department, the police chiefs' offices and reception establishments (for the identification of dedicated places, reinforcing the number cultural mediators, liaising with implicated NGOs, assistance in organising transfers).

The prefetti of Bari and Crotone, and the one of Agrigento, where the "dedicated regional hub" of Villa Silkania is already operative, are informed that their current CARAs (reception centres for asylum seekers) have been identified as dedicated "regional hubs". When the hotspots system are fully operative, they are expected to host potential beneficiaries of "relocation", to enable the formal submission of asylum requests, with support from EASO experts, until completion of the procedure for their transfer envisaged by the "relocation" mechanism.

Original document (in Italian), Ministero dell'Interno, Dipartimento per le Libertà Civili e l'Immigrazione, Oggetto: Decisioni del Consiglio Europeo n. 1523 del 14 settembre 2015 e n. 1601 del 22 settembre del 2015 per istituire misure temporanee nel settore della protezione internazionale a beneficio dell'Italia e della Grecia - Avvio della procedura di relocation. Rome, 6.10.2015. Available from the ASGI website

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