Short overview of the reception system


Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 31/05/23


The Italian reception system for asylum seekers and beneficiaries of national/international protection is governed by Legislative Decree 142/2015 (from now on “Reception Decree”), which transposed into national law the recast Reception Directive. Since 2015, the regulatory text has undergone several reforms. However, the model outlined by the law, conceiving the reception system as a single system, articulated in phases but centred on the S.A.I. (Reception and Integration System, former SPRAR, then SIPROIMI) has  significantly failed in reaching its full realisation, because of structural problems, such as the merely voluntary participation of the municipalities in the SAI network, that were never properly addressed.[1]

The drastic changes brought to the design of the reception system by Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by Law 132/2018, (also known as “Salvini Decree” or “Security Decree”) still have an impact on the present situation, although two years later the Decree Law 130/2020 (also known as “Lamorgese Decree”), converted into Law 173/2020, partially restored the model that had been originally outlined by the Legislative Decree no. 142 of 2015), reintroducing a single reception system for both asylum seekers and beneficiaries of national/international protection.

After the 2020 reform, LD 142/2015 articulates the reception system distinguishing between:[2]

  1. First aid and identification activities, which take place in centres set up close to the main disembarkation points[3] (First Aid and Reception Centres – Centri di Primo Soccorso e Assistenza, CPSA),[4] created in 2006 for the purposes of first aid and identification and now formally operating as Hotspots.[5]
  2. First assistance to be implemented in existing collective centres or in centres to be established by specific Ministerial Decrees.[6] This includes the centres previously known as Governmental Reception Centres for Asylum Seekers (Centri di Accoglienza per Richiedenti Asilo, CARA) and Reception Centres (Centri di Accoglienza, CDA). The law states that first assistance can also take place in Temporary Reception Centres (Centri di Accoglienza Straordinari, CAS).[7]
  3. Reception to be carried out in the SAI system (Reception and Integration System, Sistema di Accoglienza e Integrazione, formerly known as SPRAR, then SIPROIMI), operated in small centres, not far from the city centre or in any case well connected to it.

Decree Law 130/2020 significantly changed – at least on paper – two fundamental aspects of the reception system for asylum seekers:

  • The possibility for asylum seekers to have access to the reception system (SAI);
  • The kind and level of services provided in governmental centres, in CAS and in SAI reception facilities.

In case of unavailability of places due to a large number of close-set arrivals of asylum seekers, first reception may be implemented in “temporary structures” (strutture temporanee), also known as Extraordinary Reception Centres (Centri di accoglienza straordinaria, hereafter CAS), established by Prefectures.[8] When reception is provided in a CAS, it should be limited to the time strictly necessary for the transfers of the applicant in SAI reception centres.[9]

From the entry into force of LD 142/2015, the possibility for asylum seekers to access the so-called second reception facilities has often not turned into reality. Extraordinary centres (CAS, whose activation was – and is – ordered by the local Prefectures, in case of lack of places in the ordinary system, represented – and still represent – over 66% of all facilities where asylum seekers were  – and are  – accommodated in Italy[10]. Therefore, only a limited number of asylum seekers were able to access the second level reception system (SAI), whose projects have been chronically insufficient to cover the reception needs.

In May 2023, Law 50/2023, which converted Decree Law 20/2023, came into force. Among the many changes contained in the measure, all marked by a strongly restrictive and penalising approach towards asylum seekers, one of the most significant concerns is that, once again, asylum seekers have been excluded from the possibility to access the SAI system, so that the reception system will return to a situation in which applicants will only have access to collective government centres and temporary facilities, while the SAI will become a sub-system reserved exclusively to protection holders. This is the same approach envisaged by the so-called Salvini Decree from 2018 (DL 113/2018). The only novelty compared to said Decree is the provision establishing that access to the SAI will only be granted to asylum seekers identified as vulnerable and to those who have legally entered Italy through complementary pathways (government-led resettlements or private sponsored humanitarian admission programs).

Access to the reception system

Access to the Reception System is reserved to applicants for international protection and third-country nationals holding international or national complementary protection permits. According to the law, admission to reception should take place immediately after the expression of the intention to seek asylum,[11] and the access to the SAI system within the short time necessary to verify compliance with the requirements and identify the adequate place, with a priority procedure for vulnerable cases.

However, at least three factors, which permanently characterise the reception system, affect the functioning of the system and the possibility for asylum seekers to access reception centres. As better detailed in the next dedicated paragraph, they could be summarised as follows:

  1. Although the provision of reception measures is mandatory, the activation of SAI facilities has a voluntary nature: Municipalities can decide whether to adhere to the SAI network and have discretionarily as to the extension, increase or reduction of the existing places, regardless of the reception needs that emerge on the national territory and in the single territories;
  2. The chronic unavailability of places in SAI results in the need for local Prefectures to prepare temporary measures and set up government reception centres (CAS), but the drastically lowered costs provided by the tender specifications schemes for the reception in these facilities de facto favoured the creation of large centres managed by multinationals or for-profit organisations and excluded many of the small non-profit and professional organisations and cooperatives from the accommodation landscape;
  3. The conception of the reception duties as an emergency to be faced in the short term – and the unconcealed intentions to limit arrivals – have so far prevented serious and reasoned interventions on the implementation of an efficient accommodation system able to face the numbers of arrivals which periodically and systematically increase.

As a direct consequence, the number of places in the reception system is largely insufficient when compared to the existing needs, including those dedicated to vulnerable individuals, therefore access to the reception system for all those entitled to it is a utopia.

Basically, entry into reception develops differently for those who disembark after search and rescue operations – directly moved to hotspot facilities (eventually facing the hotspot procedure, see Hotspots) and all other “spontaneous” sea or land arrivals, who must wait months even to access the asylum procedure (See Access to procedure).

Reception facilities

As mentioned, the 2018 tender specifications schemes for reception services in governmental centres and CAS[12] had drastically lowered the costs of the first reception phase, eliminated core services and provided for a negligible number of staff, in relation to the number of guests (1 operator for 50 asylum seekers). In light of this, tender specification schemes de facto favoured the creation of large collective centres, managed by multinationals or for-profit organisations, while many small non-profit organisations and social cooperatives were excluded and withdrew from the reception system, thereby cancelling the positive effects on local territories, in terms of employment and income.[13]

As highlighted by ActionAid and Openpolis in their last report,[14] between 2018 and 2021, over 3,500 reception facilities have been closed (-29,1%)  throughout the country , while available places fell from 169,471 to 97.670 in the same period. The centres that underwent closure were mainly small-medium sized ones, while at  the same time, larger CAS facilities have often seen an increase in their capacity.

As in the past, however, the strong limit posed by the rule of the voluntary adhesion of the municipalities to the SAI reception system remains, and it is the root cause of the limited availability of places in these projects. The law, as amended by Decree Law 130/2020, provides that the stay in first reception facilities must be limited to the period strictly required for identification, registration and vulnerability assessment activities to be completed[15], and that the person must then be transferred into a SAI centre. The fact, however, that access to SAI for asylum seekers is subject to availability of places[16] and that the regulatory provision is extremely vague in defining what is meant by “the time strictly necessary”,[17] guarantees a wide discretion to the public administration, to the point that even in 2022 the vast majority of asylum seekers have spent the entire period of the asylum procedure within a government centre or a temporary centre (CAS) and never made it to the SAI system. Although prioritised access to the SAI is to be given to  vulnerable applicants,[18] an actual swift transfer into the SAI system is still a rare occurrence.

This is because, even after the reform, the SAI system is conceived as primarily intended for beneficiaries of international protection and unaccompanied minors. All the others eligible to access can do it insofar as there are still vacant posts at that specific time.[19]

Services provided

Another important effect of the Decree Law 130/2020 was the reconfiguration of many of the services to be provided to asylum seekers within the reception system. In fact, by restoring the possibility for asylum seekers to access SAI, the Government also provided them the opportunity to benefit from enhanced services. At the same time, Decree Law 130/2020 restored a number of important services that had been previously removed from the government centres and CAS tender specification schemes in 2018: social and psychological assistance, cultural mediation, Italian language courses, legal information service and information on territorial services.[20] This is particularly important, because in the period 2018-2020 asylum seekers, with the exception of the few who remained within the SAI system, had been arbitrarily deprived of services essential in view of their permanence in Italy, thus creating a situation for which they had to remain for years in centres without any real support, not even language courses.

That said, the situation regarding the actual quality of services provided for asylum seekers remains critical:

  • If applicants are now admitted into SAI centres, they have access only to so-called “first level” services, that do not include support for integration on the territory, job search, job orientation and professional training. These services, that are completely absent within the governmental and temporary centres (CAS), in SAI are restricted only to beneficiaries of national or international protection.[21]
  • The vast majority (>60%) of asylum seekers in Italy still have to remain in CAS for the entire duration of their asylum procedure, due to the chronic shortage of posts within the SAI system[22], therefore without ever being able to enjoy SAI quality services.
  • Finally, while it is true that some essential services have been restored within these CAS, it cannot be overlooked that the provisions of the new specifications for the award of services, while slightly increasing some of the fees for the operators, continue to be marked by the low quality of services provided. This is e.g. demonstrated by the widely inadequate hourly forecast for the work of the operators involved in the services themselves, which are so limited that such services become a provision with no actual content. The specifications seem to underlie the limited interest national authorities have in seeing the above-mentioned services effectively implemented in CAS and governmental facilities.

Moreover, in 2021 and 2022, many asylum seekers accommodated in CAS were withdrawn reception measures, and requested large reimbursements on the basis of presumed sufficient economic resources; additionally, many beneficiaries of international protection were notified of the termination of reception conditions in CAS immediately after receiving the residence permit, without a previous check for available places in SAI being carried out.

Unaccompanied children who, on paper, should have immediate access to SAI, still spend most of their accommodation period in first governmental centres, temporary structures or in residential care facilities (see Reception for unaccompanied minors).

Law 50/2023, which converts Decree Law 20/2023, adopted by the new Government, provides that within  governmental centres and CAS, health care, social assistance and linguistic-cultural mediation will no longer be provided. These new regulations will be followed by a new set of tender schemes specifications for these centres.

The 2018 “Security Decree” marked a net change in the reception approach, preferring a system based on big CAS centres, attracting for-profit companies and effectively cutting out small local cooperatives from participating in public calls for the management of centres. The very low numbers of operators benefitting from available funds, compared to the number of guests, led to the loss of many jobs,[23] and the services’ cut made reception a mere management of food and accommodation, also reducing the positive effects on the host territories, in terms of income and social and labour integration.[24]

Moreover, as mentioned before, tender specification schemes published on 24 February 2021, brought no significant change to the first reception scenario that emerged after the 2018 reform.

Additionally, the distinction made by Decree Law 130/2020 between a range of services addressed to asylum seekers and others reserved exclusively to beneficiaries of protection replicates the erroneous logic of restricting high level services only to protection holders – or at least to migrants having obtained a more stable residence permit-, contrary to a logic of generalised protection, ultimately slowing down considerably the process of regaining self-sufficiency by asylum seekers.

Accommodation for people escaping the Ukrainian conflict

See Annex on Temporary Protection.

COVID-19: Quarantine ships

In the period between April 2020 and the summer of 2022, the Italian Government chartered a number of private vessels, to be used in the quarantine of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, with the Italian Red Cross’ support.[25] This was done because Italy was temporarily declared to “not be a Place/Port of Safety” because of the pandemic. After the first rescue at sea and disembarkation, migrants were to be moved back on these vessels, where they had to carry out a mandatory quarantine period of 5 to 15 days (depending on the legislation in force at that specific time). When said period was completed, migrants were then disembarked and sent to reception centres around the country.

The use of quarantine ships has been severely criticised by a number of civil society bodies as being unnecessary and of a discriminatory nature, since it was being enforced upon only migrants coming from North Africa[26]. Net of these critical issues, the presence on board of medical personnel, legal informants and psychologists has allowed the creation of a mechanism for the first identification of vulnerabilities and the referrals of vulnerable cases to the Ministry and the Prefectures concerned. This mechanism, though far from perfect,[27] has been an unprecedented element in the Italian first aid and reception system, often characterised by the complete absence of attention and care relating to the special needs of newly disembarked people. These good practices died out when, between spring and summer 2022, the use of quarantine ships was gradually reduced and finally phased out completely.

Finally, two very important points must be made:

  • Although the law allowed the use of quarantine vessels only until 30 April 2022, the date on which the obligation of quarantine for anyone (Italian and non-Italian) entering Italy without a Covid-free certification came to an end, the Government continued the use of such ships until the late Summer, without any regulatory framework in place.
  • The use of quarantine vessels has not affected people fleeing Ukraine, although they also entered Italy in very large numbers and generally without Covid-19 certifications. This further confirms the arbitrary and discriminatory nature of this provision.

(See AIDA Country Report on Italy – 2021 Update for further information and reference on the topic.)

Financing, coordination and monitoring


Research carried out by Openpolis showed that reception funds belong to the “mission no. 27” of expenditure, dedicated to “immigration, reception and guarantee of rights”.[28]

This mission is divided into three programs, each assigned to a different Ministry. The program including funds for reception is the no. 2, attributed to the Ministry of the Interior and entitled “Migratory flows, interventions for the development of social cohesion, guarantee of rights, relations with religious denominations”. The program is allocated 1.9 billion euros, which represents almost two thirds of the entire mission (60.7%). Out of these, around 95% (or 1.8 billion) is used for activities related to asylum seekers, but the items of expenditure are very different and not all are related to reception.

In 2020, 845.83 million were spent for CAS and first reception services, 412.82 million € for Siproimi / SAI and 118.72 million € for unaccompanied minors’ accommodation, overall decreasing values from 2019 when 1,277.69 million € were spent for Cas and first accommodation, € 385.25 million for Siproimi and € 201.54 for unaccompanied minors. Compared to 2018, when the total spending was € 2.77 billion, the amount of expenses was reduced in half. The expenditure, which saw considerable savings on Cas and first reception centres from 2018, did not however result in any increased investment in SAI / Siproimi centres.

The expenditure forecast for 2021 is a total of 1.75 billion, out of which 1,068.59 million for Cas and first accommodation facilities but the actual expenditure is not known at the time of writing.

Funding for the reception system expansion due to the Ukrainian and Afghan crisis

For the activation of 3,000 additional SAI places, initially programmed for asylum seekers from Afghanistan and later also for people fleeing from Ukraine, DL no. 139 of 8 October 2021 established an increase in the funds allocated to the National Fund for Asylum,[29] of 11,335.320 euros for 2021 and of 44,971,650 euros for each year in 2022 and 2023,[30] taken from the MOI resources relating, for the respective years, to the activation, rental and management of detention and reception centres for migrants.

Then, to face the need to accommodate Afghan nationals evacuated after the Taliban’s takeover of the country – and later similar needs for people fleeing from the Ukrainian conflict[31] – and allow for the opening of 2,000 additional SAI places, the budget Law of 30 December 2021 no 234[32] provided for an increase in the endowment of the National Fund for Asylum of 29,981.100 euros for each of the years 2022, 2023 and 2024.[33]

To cover the costs for the creation of 3,000 new S.A.I. places, to be granted to people escaped from Ukraine, the L 28/2022 provides for the use of a portion of the National Fund for asylum,[34] and precisely: 37,702,260  € for the year 2022 and  44,971,650 € for each of the years 2023 and 2024.[35]

To cover the 54,162,000 euros needed for activating new CAS and first governmental reception facilities it is provided to reduce the Fund for economic policy interventions.[36]

Article 44 (3) of DL 50 of 17 May 2022 converted by L. 91 of 15 July 2022, allocated 112,749.000€ for the response to displacement from Ukraine in 2022.

Moreover, the same DL authorised an expenditure of 40 million to be distributed to municipalities whose social services were most affected by the presence of  temporary protection holders.[37]

To cover the former expenditure and the one related to the empowerment of the reception measures for people fleeing from Ukraine the LD states to increase the resources of the National Emergency Fund.[38]

Article 31 (4) LD 21 of 21 March 2022 provides that, until 31 December 2022, MOI resources allocated to the activation, rental and management of the reception centres are increased by an additional 7,533,750 euros, also to be allocated to the activation of new first reception centres and CAS facilities.[39]

The law also provides not to apply, for the year 2022, the provision according to which savings achieved in accommodation of migrants have to be allocated to the international cooperation fund and to the repatriation fund,[40] and authorises changes among the funds assigned to the single budget chapters under the MOI program “Migratory flows, interventions for the development of social cohesion, guarantee of rights, relations with religious confessions”.[41]

Funding for alternative forms of assistance for Ukrainian asking for temporary protection

To face the assistance measures within the total limit of 348 million euros for the year 2022, LD 21 of 21 March 2022, at Article 31, provides the possibility to draw additional resources from the National Fund for emergencies,[42] that is consequently increased.

In order to cover these costs, LD 21/2022 provides an increase of 40 million for 2022 and of 80 million for 2023 the fund of the Ministry of Economy and Finance fed with share of tax and contribution revenues and aimed at equalising tax measures.[43]

LD 21/2022 foresees that the expenses, including those for reception of people fleeing from Ukraine, will be covered for 2022 by the higher revenues deriving from the contributions paid by the subjects who exercise, in Italy, for the subsequent sale, the activity of production of electricity, methane gas or extraction of natural gas, and of the subjects who carry out the production activity, distribution and trade of petroleum products.[44]

Management and Coordination

The Ministry of Interior is responsible for the overall management of the national reception system,[45] while its peripheral administrations, Prefectures or Local Government Bureaus, are in charge of managing reception on a local level, in their own Province.

The law provides for a National Coordination Table to be set up at the Ministry of the Interior (Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration) and for Regional Coordination Tables to be established at every Prefecture of the regional capitals.[46] The National Table is responsible, among others, for defining the guidelines and planning the interventions aimed at optimising the reception system. This includes the criteria for regional allocation of posts to be allocated to reception. The Table develops, on a yearly basis, a National reception plan that identifies national reception needs, based on projections for new arrivals.[47]

Guidelines and programming prepared by the Table are then to be implemented at territorial level through the Regional coordination tables, which identify the location criteria for CARA and CAS facilities as well as the distribution criteria within the Region of the places to be allocated to reception purposes, taking into account the places already activated, in the territory of reference, within the SAI system. In the perspective of national coordination and multi-level governance of reception, several institutional acts have also been taken, beginning with the approval of a National Operational Plan by the Unified Conference[48] of 10 July 2014,[49] which represented a first attempt to develop a system of planning, organisation and national management of the reception of migrants and refugees. The fundamental aspect on which the implementation of the Plan was based was the progressive overcoming of the emergency-focused management that had characterised the Italian reception system until then.

In practice, at least as regards the reception of applicants and protection holders, the Italian Government has often distinguished itself not only for a chronic lack of foresight in terms of needs and the consequent necessary planning, but also for the tendency to centralise most choices, reducing to the bone concertation and co-decision with others stakeholders. Proof of this is the fact that, in 2022, not only was the Government reception system once again unprepared for the growing numbers of asylum seekers to be received -with the consequence that new centres had to be opened in a rush, while an incalculable number of people was left homeless without any assistance-[50], but also most decisions in this sense were taken by the central government, without consultation with other relevant actors.[51] These two levels influence each other: if proper multiannual planning is not carried out, coordinating with local realities, the reception system as a whole cannot be stabilised, let alone enhanced. Conversely, as the Government frequently finds itself in urgent and unforeseen need for thousands of new places, which cannot wait for the lengthy process of consulting and involving local actors.[52] The most recent example of a proposed solution to this problem is the declaration of the state of emergency of 11 April 2023; according to the national Government, such measure was necessary to ensure the proper management of reception needs following disembarkations: the Italian regions were not involved in the decision-making process, so much so that, when it came to signing a formal agreement, all the regions governed by a political majority different from the central Government’s one (Valle d’Aosta, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Apulia and Campania) refused to sign it, arguing against the necessity to declare the state of emergency. As a consequence, while the national emergency should be valid at the national level, its rules cannot be applied in those 5 regions. Similarly, the most important representative body of Italian municipalities (ANCI) declared that it would be of paramount importance to involve Municipalities when making decisions that impact on the territories.[53].


The legislation provides that the Ministry of Interior (Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration) is responsible for supervising and monitoring the management of reception facilities, both directly and via local Prefectures. As far as they are concerned, Prefectures may also avail themselves of the services of the social services of the relevant Municipality.[54] Monitoring activities concern the verification of the quality of the services provided, as well as the procedures for the award of reception services. While the Ministry is obliged to present the results of said monitoring activity in the comprehensive report on reception it must submit to Parliament at the latest by 30 June every year, there have been major delays recently, so much so that the 2020 report was only presented in October 2022, while the 2021 report was presented at the end of November 2022.[55]

From the most recent data available, it emerges that in 2021, 1,081 inspection controls were carried out in presence (which involved 950 facilities) and 2,224 (which involved 561 facilities) were carried out remotely. Said 3,305 controls would therefore have concerned 1,511 structures, out of a total of 4,225 structures active in 2021 (less than 36% of the total).[56] Remote monitoring was considered necessary, as was the case for 2020, as a result of distancing and isolation measures derived from the Covid-19 pandemic.[57]

The issue of inspection checks on reception is characterised by a certain lack of transparency. Actionaid submitted, in July 2020, a request for access to the documents concerning the inspections carried out by the Ministry of the Interior, which rejected the request on grounds of confidentiality and protection of managers. Following two appeals, only in June 2022 the Council of State ordered the Ministry of the Interior to make the 2019 data available.[58] Subsequent requests for access to the documents, relating to the years 2020 and 2021, saw a new refusal by the Government, which denied the release of the aggregated detail of the data relating to inspections in the centres, necessary to be able to provide insights and analysis on the subject.

In addition to transparency issues, the subject of inspections presents at least two other important weaknesses, relating to whether the controls are actually performed and to the quality with which they are carried out. Available data shows that some Prefectures carried out an adequate number, at least numerically, of inspection checks in their own structures, while others carried out a significantly smaller number, or none at all. This figure seems to be transversal to the total number of reception facilities in the province concerned, indeed, paradoxically often the greater the number of facilities, the fewer the number of controls. This figure can only be explained on the one hand by a difference in sensitivity to the issue of controls by certain Prefectures, on the other hand with the fact that offices that have to manage multiple facilities are already under pressure with the management work and have neither time nor staff to carry out inspections.[59]

The other key aspect is the quality of the controls themselves. While it is true that the specifications scheme is the common reference at national level for services, it remains an administrative tender document, which establishes only quantitative indications, therefore inadequate as a reference for a minimally thorough inspection. Italian Prefectures have historically lacked a qualitative-quantitative tool aimed specifically at inspections, despite some attempts have been made over the years,[60] as well as uniform standards of evaluation. This leads to many elements of variability and therefore of criticality. Some Prefectures have formalised the creation of permanent inspection units, while others recruit officials on a time to time availability basis. The inspection team may include only Prefecture staff, who have only administrative responsibilities, while in other occasions it is enlarged to include other responsibilities and other administrations, including for example: social worker, fire brigade, health authorities, reporting experts. Furthermore, the Prefectures’ staff is usually not trained before conducting inspections, nor are they familiar with the issues of forced migration, the right of asylum, and the handling of vulnerabilities. Finally, the presence of linguistic and cultural mediators in support of inspectors, who often do not even speak English, is extremely rare, with the consequence that it is not possible to interview the accepted people and collect complaints, reports and needs. All this results in a very wide heterogeneity and discretion in the quality of the controls, a general inability to carry out a qualitative evaluation of the effectiveness of the services offered. Especially as Prefecture-managed centres account for almost three quarters of the total number of reception centres in Italy, this continues to be a strong limit for the entire reception system.

The recent Decree-Law 20/2023 provides that, in cases where in government centres or in the CAS there is a serious breach of the obligations arising from the service contract, but concurrently said services cannot be interrupted as compelling for the protection of fundamental rights, the Prefect appoints a Commissioner for the extraordinary and temporary management of the enterprise. At the same time, the Prefect starts the procedures for the direct award of a new contract for the supply of goods and services.

Among the tasks that the law assigns to the Central Service SAI, one of the most important is to carry out monitoring activities of SAI reception projects and to provide technical assistance to the local authorities sponsoring these projects.[61] Specifically, the Ministerial Decree that regulates the SAI system provides that the activities of the Central Service accompany the entire life cycle of local reception projects; among these, on-site visits to support local authorities in the application of the relevant legislation and operational instructions can be carried out, also identifying the most appropriate corrective actions to increase the quality of reception services.[62] In practice, the Central Service mainly provides technical support in the realisation and in the practical management of the reception project, providing the local authority and the managing body of the project with advice, helping in the management of the most complex cases, facilitation in interfacing with other local and national realities. This activity is very important, as it allows project staff to receive specialised support on an ongoing basis.

In addition to this, the monitoring unit of the Central Service periodically carries out on-site monitoring visits, to directly verify the progress of the reception project, the actual provision and quality of services, and the adequacy of the accommodation used. These activities are carried out by qualified and trained personnel, who deal with the qualitative monitoring of projects as their main activity. The agreement signed with the Ministry of the Interior provides that, during each year, at least one monitoring visit is to be carried out for each individual project (the SAI network, in February 2023, consisted of 934 projects). Officials specialised in reporting and administration, as well as officials from the Ministry of the Interior, the Prefecture, UNHCR, etc., can participate in these missions based on existing needs. The SAI monitoring visits are particularly thorough and often last several days; a typical visit includes a visit to the reception facilities involved, interviews with the hosted beneficiaries with the help of cultural-linguistic mediators, a meeting with the staff directly managing the project and a final meeting with representatives of the local authority responsible for the project. After the visit, a follow-up report is produced, containing a descriptive part of its outcome, recommendations and tips for the services’ improvement and mandatory requirements and requests for adjustment or correction, with respect to any findings on shortcomings detected during monitoring. Project managers are then given a date by which to submit their comments and provide evidence of the corrections that have been implemented. In this interlocution, which continues until a positive response is given by the Central Service, the Ministry of the Interior and the Prefecture responsible for the territory are involved. Data relating to monitoring visits carried out by the Central Service is not made public and no other information is available to the general public.

While existing legislation provides that the duty of conducting inspections regarding the entire reception system, including SAI projects, lies with the Ministry of Interior and its Prefectures,[63] in practice SAI monitoring has been carried out almost exclusively by the Central Service. In 2019, however, the Ministry gave orders to the Prefectures to carry out inspections in SAI projects (at that time SIPROIMI) pertaining to their territory of competence, “in coordination with the Central Service”.[64] Since then, however, only few Prefectures have carried out inspections in the SAI; additionally, these were often conducted in a heterogeneous manner, sometimes carrying out joint missions with the Central Service, sometimes without any contact nor coordination, while often not doing them at all, on the grounds of limited staff availability.




[1] For a detailed analysis on the 2015 reception model, see AIDA 2016 and the following updates (For a better understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, see the following. Morandi and Schiavone, Analisi delle norme in materia di accoglienza dei richiedenti protezione internazionale e di procedura per il riconoscimento della protezione internazionale alla luce dell’entrata in vigore del d.lgs. n. 142/2015, in Diritto, immigrazione e cittadinanza XVII, 3-4.2015. Penasa, L’accoglienza dei richiedenti asilo: sistema unico o mondi paralleli?, in Diritto, Immigrazione e Cittadinanza, 1/2017, available at: Campomori, Il sistema di accoglienza dei richiedenti asilo in Italia, Osservatorio Internazionale per la Coesione e Inclusione Sociale, Policy memo, September 2016. Marchetti, Le sfide dell’accoglienza. Passato e presente dei sistemi istituzionali di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo e rifugiati in Italia, in Meridiana, n. 86, 2016. Il diritto di asilo tra accoglienza e esclusione (various authors), 2015.

[2] For a description of the current model, see the following. Conti, La protezione umanitaria e il nuovo Sistema di accoglienza e integrazione nel d.l. N. 130/2020, in, n. 35/2020, ISSN 1826-3534. Giovannetti, Giro di boa. La riforma del sistema di accoglienza e integrazione per richiedenti e titolari di protezione internazionale, in Diritto, Immigrazione e Cittadinanza, n. 1/2021, ISSN 1972-4799.

[3] Article 8(2) Reception Decree, as amended by DL 130/2020, which now directly recalls Article 10- ter TUI.

[4] L 563/1995.

[5] Article 10-ter TUI, inserted by Article 17 Decree Law 13/2017 and L 46/2017.

[6] Article 8 (2) Reception Decree, as amended by DL 130/2020, and Article 9 Reception Decree.

[7] Article 8 (2) as amended by DL 130/2020.

[8] Article 11(1) Reception Decree, as amended by Decree Law 130/2020.

[9] Article 11(3) Reception Decree, as amended by Decree Law 130/2020.

[10] MoI, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero, 28 February 2023, available at:

[11] Article 1 (2) Reception Decree.

[12] As per Ministerial Decree 28 November 2018.

[13] For a detailed analysis of the effects of Decree Law 113/2018 on the reception system, see: Acocella, The evolution of the Italian reception system for asylum seekers into a “non-place” for “non-subjects”, in Mondi migranti: 1, 2022, DOI: 10.3280/MM2022-001011. Franzè, The ‘(In)security Decree’: Undermining Practices of Reception in the Italian Hosting Mechanism, Refugee Law Initiative,  Working Paper No. 66, October 2022. Giovannetti, La frontiera mobile dell’accoglienza per richiedenti asilo e rifugiati in Italia, in Diritto, Immigrazione e Cittadinanza, n. 1/2019, ISSN 1972-4799. Vettori, Servizio pubblico di accoglienza e diritti fondamentali dei richiedenti asilo. Profili di illegittimità della riforma introdotta dal D.L. n. 113/2018, in Diritto, Immigrazione e Cittadinanza, n. 3/2019, ISSN 1972-4799.  See also: Guella, Sistema di accoglienza dei richiedenti asilo e disposizioni in materia di iscrizione anagrafica nel c.d. Decreto Sicurezza, in Osservatorio Costituzionale, 1-2/2019, ISSN: 2283-7515.

[14] Actionaid and Openpolis, Centri d’Italia. Report 2022. Il vuoto dell’accoglienza, available at:

[15] Article 11 (3) Reception Decree as amended by DL 130/2020.

[16] Article 8 (3) Reception Decree, as amended by DL 130/2020 and Article 9 (4 bis) regarding the passage from governmental centres to SAI.

[17] Article 11 (3) Reception Decree as amended by DL 130/2020.

[18] Article 9 (4-bis) regarding the passage from governmental centres to SAI and Article 11 (3) Reception Decree regarding the passage from CAS to SAI.

[19] Article 1 sexies (1) DL 416/1989 according to which in the SAI system, dedicated to beneficiaries of international protection and unaccompanied minors, municipalities can also accommodate asylum seekers and holders of specified permits to stay.

[20] Article 10 (1) Reception decree, as amended by DL 130/2020.

[21] Article 1 sexies (2 bis) DL 416/1989, introduced by DL 130/2020.

[22] See MoI, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero, 31 March 2023, available at:

[23] Avvenire, Decreto Sicurezza. Accoglienza migranti in crisi, 15mila operatori rischiano il lavoro, 6 May 2019, available in Italian at:

[24] Valori, Accoglienza migranti: i quattro fallimenti del decreto Sicurezza, 31 July 2019, available in Italian at:

[25] For more information on the Italian Red Cross’ role on quarantine vessels, see ASGI, Navi quarantena: la richiesta di asilo e il ruolo della Croce Rossa Italiana, 22 April 2022, available in Italian at:

[26] See ASGI, Per un’accoglienza delle persone migranti sicura e dignitosa. Basta con le navi quarantena, 3 March 2022, available in Italian at:

[27] Visit on Rhapsody, quarantine ship, on 17 September 2020, available at:

[28] Openpolis, Il ministero dell’interno e il bilancio dell’accoglienza, July 2021, available at:

[29] Article 1-septies of Legislative Decree 416/1989 converted into Law 39/1990.

[30] Article 7 DL 139/2021, as amended by Article 5 quarter DL 14/2022 converted with modification into L 28/2022.

[31] Article 5-quater (6) extended the provision also to people fleeing from Ukraine.

[32] Article 1 (390) L 234/2021 as amended by Article 5 quater (6) DL 14/2022 converted with modification into L 28/2022.

[33] Article 1-septies of Legislative Decree 416/1989 converted into Law 39/1990.

[34] Article 1-septies LD  no. 416/1989.

[35] Article 5-quater (3) DL 14/2022 as modified by the conversion L 28/2022.

[36] Article 5-quater (9) DL 14/2022 as modified by the conversion L 28/2022.

[37] Article 44 (4) DL 50 of 17 May 2022 converted by L. 91 of 15 July 2022.

[38] LD 1/2018 Article 44.

[39] Article 31 (4) LD 21/2022.

[40] Article 5-quater (8) dl 14/2022 as modified by the conversion L 28/2022 which states not to apply the second sentence of Article 1(767) L 145/2018.

[41] Article 5-quater (8) dl 14/2022 as modified by L 28/2022 which refers to the budget of the Moi program belonging to the “Mission 27” “Immigration, reception and guarantee of rights”, to be adopted pursuant to article 33, paragraph 4, of the law 31 December 2009, n. 196. The Mission 27 expending has been reported by the Senate in the publication Una analisi per missioni, programmi e azioni: la pubblica amministrazione, l’ordine pubblico e l’immigrazione available at: More in general, regarding funds addressed to the reception system, see also Openpolis at:

[42] Article 31 (4) LD 21/2022, which refers to the fund ruled by Article 44 LD 1/ 2018.

[43] Article 38 LD 21/2022 which refers to the fund ruled by Article 1 quarter DL 137/ 2020 converted into L 176/2020.

[44] Article 38 (2) and Article 37 LD 21/2022.

[45] The management and supervision of the entirety of the reception system are entrusted in particular to the Central Directorate of Immigration and Asylum Civil Services.

[46] The National Coordination Table is established pursuant to Article 29(3) of Legislative Decree 251/2007 (transposition of the recast Qualification Directive). As regards the reception, its duties are regulated by Article 9(1) and 16 of the Reception Decree, by Ministerial Decree 16 October 2014 and by the National Agreement of the Unified Conference of 10 July 2014.

[47] This plan was developed only once, in 2016, and has been largely unapplied. Source: MoI, Piano Accoglienza 2016, available at:

[48] The Unified Conference (Conferenza Unificata) is a permanent body where the Central Government, Regions, Provinces and Municipalities are represented. It participates in decision-making processes involving matters for the State and the Regions, in order to foster cooperation between the State activity and the system of autonomies, examining matters and tasks of common interest, also carrying out advisory functions.

[49] The text of the agreement is available at:

[50] See Altreconomia, Scarsa programmazione, posti vuoti e persone al freddo: così ai migranti è negata l’accoglienza, 8 February 2023, available at:

[51] Concerning the poor use of coordinating tables, see ANCI, Biffoni: “Ampliare capienza rete Sai per minori e riattivare tavolo di coordinamento”, available at:

[52] On the topic, see: Campomori and Ambrosini, Multilevel governance in trouble: the implementation of asylum seekers’ reception in Italy as a battleground, in Comparative Migration Studies, (2020) 8:22, available at: Campomori, Asylum seekers reception policies in Italy: Weaknesses and contradictions, in Politiche Sociali, 2018, available at:

[53] ANSA, Sui migranti Regioni divise, ‘il Governo ci incontri’, 19 aprile 2023, available at:

[54] Article 20(1) Reception Decree.

[55] The 2020 and 2021 reports available at:

[56] The information made public by the Ministry in its reports to Parliament does not reach such a level of detail that it is possible to determine which structures have been visited and how many inspections, if any, have been repeated on the same structures. Moreover, it is not possible to understand how many of them have been carried out directly by the Ministry, how many by the Prefectures and how many by the officials of the SAI Central Service. Furthermore, the Government’s report deals exclusively with the controls carried out under Article 20, while there is little to none evidence about any other kind of controls, e.g. by health authorities, EU/international organisations (UNHCR, IOM, EUAA…), or as part of court proceedings.

[57] See Circular Letter Ministry of Interior, n. 12498, 26 June 2020.

[58] For data about inspection controls in 2019, see ActionAid, Centri d’Italia, Report 2022, available at:

[59] This is for example the case of the Prefecture of Milan, which carried out only 20 inspections in 2019 and, in the face of an increase in its reception facilities in subsequent years, for a total capacity of over 2,000 people, made only 2 visits in the period 2021-2022.

[60] The reference is to the AMIF funded M.I.Re.Co. project (Monitoring and Improvement of Reception Conditions). The project’s aim was to carry out a significant number of monitoring visits in reception centres of all kinds, throughout Italy, and to develop guidelines and standard qualitative-quantitative monitoring tools. The project took place between May 2017 and the end of 2019, but the Government has never made public neither the guidelines nor the results of the around 3,000 monitoring visits that have been supposedly carried out. Only a small part of this data has been made available in the Report on the operation of the reception system designed to meet extraordinary needs connected with the exceptional influx of foreigners into the country (year 2017), August 2018, available at:

[61] Article 1-sexies (4 and 5) Decree Law 416/1989, converted with amendments into Law 39/1990, as last amended by Decree Law 130/2020, converted with amendments into Law 173/2020.

[62] Ministry of Interior Decree 18 November 2019.

[63] Article 20(1) Reception Decree.

[64] See Circular Letters from MoI DCLI no. 6021 of 23 May 2019 and no. 12246 of 12 July 2019.

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