Conditions in reception facilities


Country Report: Conditions in reception facilities Last updated: 30/11/20


Given the extremely small number of arrivals in 2019, the lack of access to reception is not related anymore to the absence of places but often to the difficulties in the registration of the asylum application (see Registration).

Reception conditions only have to satisfy a basic level in first reception centres and in CAS. The Reception Decree provides that the respect of private life, gender and age specific concerns, physical and mental health, family unit and the situation of vulnerable persons shall be ensured in first reception centres and CAS. Measures to prevent any form of violence and to ensure the safety and security of applicants shall be adopted.[1]

As stated in Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions, the Decree of the Ministry of Interior of 20 November 2018 providing the tender specification schemes (capitolati) for first reception, cancelled all integration services as well as funding related to psychological support, which is now guaranteed only in CPR and hotspots. Conversely, former SPRAR projects ensured interpretation and linguistic-cultural mediation services, legal counselling, teaching of the Italian language and access to schools for minors, health assistance, socio-psychological support in particular to vulnerable persons, training and re-training, support at providing employment, counselling on the services available at local level to allow integration locally, information on (assisted) voluntary return programmes, as well as information on recreational, sport and cultural activities.[2]

Subsequently, the indications contained in the circular dated 4 February 2020 issued by the new MoI did not change the situation, allowing to exceed the prices indicated only in consideration of the higher costs of rents and surveillance.

In practice, reception conditions vary considerably not only among different reception centres but also between the same type of facilities. While the services provided are the same, the quality can differ depending on the management bodies running the centres. While the SPRAR system published an annual report on its reception system, no comprehensive and updated reports on reception conditions are available for the entire Italian territory.

It is not possible to determine an overall average of duration of stay. However, asylum seekers remain in reception centres throughout the whole asylum procedure, which may last several months, as well as during the appeal procedure. The Reception Decree does not provide any timeframe on the reception, since this has to be provided since the expression of the intention to make an asylum application and throughout the whole asylum procedure.

The recent adoption of the safe countries list together with the issue of the border procedures and, more generally, the application of accelerated procedures, will probably have a significant impact on the times and on the right to reception conditions, denying, due to an incorrect use of the institute of manifestly unfounded decisions, the protection to guarantee to asylum seekers even shortly after their arrival. (see accelerated procedure).


Conditions in first reception centres


Whereas first reception centres are the main form of accommodation following the 2018 reform, the law still states that their aim is to offer accommodation to asylum seekers for the purpose of completion of operations necessary for the determination of their legal status,[3] and of medical tests for the detection of vulnerabilities, to take into account for a subsequent and more focused placement.[4]

First reception centres are collective centres, up until now set up in large facilities, isolated from urban centres and with poor or otherwise difficult contacts with the outside world.

Generally speaking, all governmental centres are very often overcrowded. Accordingly, the quality of the reception services offered is not equivalent to reception facilities of smaller size. In general, concerns have systematically been raised about the high variability in the standards of reception centres in practice, which may manifest itself in: overcrowding and limitations in the space available for assistance, legal advice and social life; physical inadequacy of the facilities and their remoteness from the community; or difficulties in accessing appropriate information.[5] Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that the material conditions also vary from one centre to another depending on the size, the occupancy rate, and the level and quality of the services provided by the body managing each centre.

In May 2019, after the closure of small CAS facilities, 250 persons were moved to centre of Cavarzerani that reach a number of over 420 hosted persons, including families. Some reports showed the conditions of overcrowding[6] and some members of Parliament expressed their concern after their visits due to the fact that also pregnant women, families with children and people with health problems had been placed in the centre.[7]

In February 2020 the mayor of Udine presented a project for the redevelopment of the area which could no longer be designated for the reception of asylum seekers.[8]

Managers tend to avoid accommodating together people of the same nationality but belonging to different ethnicities, religion, or political groups in order to prevent of the rise of tensions and violence.


Conditions in CAS


According to the Reception Decree, services guaranteed in temporary centres (CAS) are the same as those guaranteed in first reception centres.[9]

The chronic emergency state under which the CAS operate has forced the improvisation of interventions and favoured the entry into the reception network of bodies lacking the necessary skills and, in the worst cases, only interested in profits.

The functioning of CAS depends on agreements by the management bodies with the Prefectures and on the professionalism of the bodies involved, there are notable cases in which the reception conditions were equal to those of former SPRAR, such as the CAS of Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia.[10] As discussed in Forms and Levels of Material Reception Conditions, however, the new calls for tenders modelled on the Ministry of Interior tender scheme of 20 November 2018 already resulted in the disappearance of these virtuous projects.

This happened, for example, in Milan, Lombardy, where 11 third sector managers, in many cases small companies with a strong social vocation, decided not to participate in new tenders.[11]

In Livorno, Tuscany, in 2019, the vast majority of third sector managers have decided not to participate in the new tenders, therefore all small and many medium-sized centres have closed and the number of available places in reception has drastically decreased. The migrants hosted in centres that have been closed have often been transferred to other locations. Others, not to abandon the integration paths developed over time, have decided to stay in Livorno with high risks of social marginality.[12]


Conditions in makeshift camps


As discussed in Criteria and Restrictions to Access Reception Conditions, at least 10,000 persons were excluded from the reception system as of February 2018, among whom asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection.

Informal settlements with limited or no access to essential services are spread across Italy. A report by MSF published in February 2018 described the situation in some makeshift camps.[13]

By the end of 2018, some of these camps had been rapidly evacuated. This happened to the Ferrhotel in Bari.[14] In both cases people were warned only two days before the eviction and it is not clear if they have been transferred to proper reception facilities or simply have been evicted.

The makeshift camp of San Ferdinando, Calabria, a tent camp where among others migrants, some asylum seekers and agricultural workers were living, was evacuated on 6 March 2019. Asylum seekers have been dispersed or transferred to CAS of other regions. Many of them protested because they would lose their job and salary.[15]

On 30 July 2019 the former Olympic village (MOI), in Turin, was evacuated and the over 400 migrants who were living there moved to other accommodations. The eviction plan, the media explained, was accelerated due to the extremely insecure conditions of one of the two buildings. [16]

Since January 2018, the Naga network has been monitoring the informal settlements in Milan where they found living, among others, asylum seekers who had no access to the asylum procedure, asylum seekers who were waiting for weeks to register their asylum application and who were therefore prevented from accessing the reception conditions, and also beneficiaries of international protection forced to abandon the sprar/siproimi reception due to the expiry of their project.

The report, [17] published in December 2019 offers a description of the types of informal settlements frequently subject, even in 2019, to evictions. Among these:

  • Abandoned covered structures (such as old industrial warehouses, railway warehouses, building sites whose work has been interrupted), buildings without walls and with no divided spaces; [18]
  • Open spaces such as parks, disused construction sites or railway yards, where many of the people cleared of the covered structures subject to evictions went to live;
  • Abandoned buildings (old spas, offices, schools) originally not intended for housing with spaces built and organized according to a division into units (offices, apartments, rooms);
  • public parks.

In Foggia, in the Capitanata area, Apulia region, from June to September 2019 the Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) mobile clinic assisted 225 people (209 men and 16 women) carrying out 292 medical visits and 153 legal orientation interviews operating mainly in five informal settlements: the Ghetto of Rignano Gargano, Borgo Mezzanone, the farmhouses of Poggio Imperiale and Palmori. 60 % of the people were regular asylum seekers or international protected or humanitarian protected. The remaining 40% were in irregular condition. [19]

The final report "The Bad Season" (La Cattiva Stagione)[20] written by MEDU illustrates the living and working conditions of the labourers and describes the unhealthy settlements, isolated without any minimum basic service and with pervasive exploitation of workers.


[1] Articles 10(1) and 11(2) Reception Decree.

[2] Article 30 Ministry of Interior Decree 10 August 2016.

[3] Article 9(1) Reception Decree.

[4] Article 9(4) Reception Decree.

[5] This is a recurring concern: Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Report by Nils Muiznieks, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, following his visit to Italy from 3 to 6 July 2012, CommDH(2012)26, 18 September 2012, 36.

[6] Pictures showing the overcrowding conditions of the centre in May 2019 are available at Repubblica, Friuli, caos sull'accoglienza e i richiedenti asilo tornano in caserma. Le associazioni: "È una deportazione, at :


[8] Telefriuli, 6 February 2020, available in Italian at:

[9] Articles 11(2) and 10(1) Reception Decree.

[10] ASGI, Il diritto d’asilo tra accoglienza ed esclusione (Dell’Asino, 2015) and Il Sistema Dell'accoglienza Di Trieste: Report Statistico 2017, 19 July 2018, available in Italian at:

[11] Openpolis and Actionad, third report, available in Italian at:

[12] Openpolis and Actionaid, second report, available in Italian at:

[13] MSF, Fuori campo, February 2018, 2, 36.

[14] Il Giornale, ‘Bari, sgomberati i locali della Ferrhotel occupati da extracomunitari’, 12 October 2018, available in Italian at:

[15] Internazionale ‘A San Ferdinando sgomberata una tendopoli se ne apre un’altra’, 6 March 2019, available in Italian at:

[16] Repubblica,  Operazione Moi libero: sgomberate le ultime due palazzine. Salvini: stop a nuove arbitrarie intrusioni, 30 July 2019, available in Italian at:

[17] Naga, Senza Scampo, December 2019, available in Italian at:

[18] According to the report, following the evictions, by the end of 2019 only one of these spaces would still be occupied.

[19] Immediato, Più di 200 migranti curati nei ghetti della provincia di Foggia, quasi la metà era irregolare, 21 October 2019,  available in Italian at:

[20]  Medici per i diritti umani, report La Cattiva Stagione, 21 October 2019, available in Italian at :


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation