Crisis: Italy and EU less of a draw, immigrants go home

Over 1,000 assisted voluntary repatriations expected in 2013

27 March, 15:44

Number of foreigners opting for assisted voluntary repatriation has risen in Italy Number of foreigners opting for assisted voluntary repatriation has risen in Italy

(ANSAmed) - ROME - The economic crisis has made Italy and other European countries less attractive to immigrants, especially those whose countries of origin are experiencing economic growth rates much higher than those in Italy. As a result, the number of foreigners opting for assisted voluntary repatriation - an option established by an EU directive and adopted by Italy - has risen: from 228 in 2009 to an estimated over 1,000 in 2013. Since 2009, Assisted Voluntary Repatriation (AVR) has been co-funded by the European Repatriation Fund and the Italian Interior ministry and implemented through a system of projects selected every year which not only carry out the actual return but aim to consolidate a national network - called the Rete RIRVA - to promote more information to immigrants and personnel training. The personnel are mostly social workers who ensure that the return is safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable.

Currently 330 organizations including the Italian Refugee Council (CIR) and Oxfam belong to the RIRVA network. A call center and an internet site have been set up and a guide for those working in the sector has been published. A nationwide campaign is set to start with a television spot, informational brochures and web-based information.

The project was due to end in June 2013, but during a meeting on Wednesday Maurilia Bove, from the interior ministry's Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration, said that by the end of the day on Thursday an announcement would be made for the internet project, which will allow the work done thus far to continue. ''Job opportunities are decreasing in Italy while they are rising in their countries of origin,'' said CIR director Christopher Hein, ''and this leads to a reduction in the number of foreigners arriving and an increase in those leaving (at least 35,000 in 2012), even though the public opinion and the political scene have not taken note of it. However, this is happening even in other European countries in better shape than we are. Turkey has a 6% growth rate while Germany's is around 1%, a gap which is leading many Turkish immigrants to go back to their own countries.'' Hein added that ''in 2015 and 2016 enterprises will have to go in search of workers. Many Italians are already going back to trades that had previously been left to immigrants, such as that of caregivers. When the crisis ends, we will realize that we don't have enough workers.'' (ANSAmed).

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