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Abeba goes to Holland

The first relocation in Progetto Itaca.

Abeba goes to Holland

Mother, woman, Eritrean with two daughters Salim and Lidia at her back.
One certainty to chase: arriving in Holland to be reunited with her brother that lives in the land of tulips since long ago. One procedure to follow: relocation.

What we are talking about? Relocation, in Italian “ricollocazione”..

First things first, let’s start from the beginning, I mean from 2015 when European Commission issued the Agenda on Migration, which central core was the implementation of the hotspot approach with the resulting introduction of a system of emergency relocation.

Hotspots are identification centres of fingerprint newly arrived refugees and migrants, usually lead on the shores after rescue operations in the sea, a screening for the examination of asylum applications or repatriations and first assistance. Through fingerprinting it is expected to substantially reduce secondary activities of migrants, and so the movements towards the others memeber states of EU according to the standards established bu Dublin Regulation III, that ensure the possibility to return to the first-entry country. In order to reduce the load that burden these staes (at the moment Italy and Greece) in September 2015 a relocation system has been introduced providing the progressive transfer of approximately

160,000 asylum seekers

(40,000 of them from Italy) – a little share of the arrivals – towards other European states within September 2017, to analyse there their asylum application. Supervision and sharing of responsibilities were the keywords at that time.

Relocation looks as a corrective action of article 13 in chapter III of Dublin III, and referring to that, Itay and Greece should be the States responsible for the examination of asylum applications, as “first-entry” country in European Union. But the only applicants who can be relocated are people whose nationality has an average rate of granting of international protection applications in Europe above the 75%, based on Eurostat data of the last four-months period. The list of the nationalities is updated every three months by Easo (European Asylum Support Office) including on September 26th, 2017 Eritrea, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bhutan, Qatar, Syria, United Arabs Emirates and Yemen.

 Numbers of nationalities registered in Italian hotspots.

Source: Department of immigration and civil liberties – Ministry of the Interior

Getting informed on the actual composition of migratory flows towards Europe we see immediately the restrictions of the procedure: in fact, considering the nationality of the arrivals recorded in the Italian hotspots at the end of 2016 as illustrative data, we can see that the list does not consider the most representative nationalities landing in Italy, apart from Eritreans.

Furthermore, this 75% criterion excludes immediately from the program a huge number of people coming from countries at war or oppressed by merciless dictatorships such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Gambia.

The procedure requires that:

  • People from abovementioned countries are provided with appropriate information about relocation in the hotspots, with EASO and UNHCR’s support;
  • These people are transferred to reception centres, in the State of first entry, to make official the application of international protection with the C3 form and attachment;
  • The Dublin Unit and the authorities of the country of arrival identify the State of destination based on the applicant’s possibilities of inclusion (cultural bond, linguistic ability, existence of relatives, etc…) and according to the reception share made available from every member State. Periodically, every three months the most, the States of destination set the number of asylum seeker they can relocate. So, it is not the asylum seeker itself that chooses the Country where they are relocated. This point is in conflict to the International Right establishing that it is not mandatory for asylum seekers to apply for international protection in a specific Country but rather he has the right to do so in any Country. Actually, according to European Right, if a person is previously fingerprinted in Italy, subsequently any other European State can return the asylum application to Italy;
  • The departure States have the power to decide when to apply and to who, for every identified applicant;
  • The transfer to the Country of destination is a IOM’s responsibility (International Organization for Migrations);
  • The relocation State is responsible for examining the asylum application.

According to the legislation, the procedure should be completed within two months from the moment that the relocation to the State of destination is confirmed.

Making progress.

In a year and half, a few progresses had been made in terms of sharing of responsibilities: in fact, the relocation program is failing in achieving the aim that the European Council set in September 2016, or rather 39,600 people relocated from Italy to European Union within 26/09/2017. The basic problem is that Member States refuse to conform to compulsory and very low shares of relocation and when they do so are extremely slow in reception of asylum seeker from Italy.

I numeri della relocation non decollano.

*Source: 8° report about relocation and resettlement – European Commission


Considering the discouraging figures, European Commission prefigured a new aim set on the basis of a progressive elimination of relocation barriers and an increase of the commitment from Member States:

“every people qualified for relocation have to be transferred within September 2017” with 3,000 relocations per months (2,000 from Greece and 1,000 from Italy) to accomplish from December 2016 to avoid an “unsustainable accumulation of cases”. Such aim requires that every Member State transfer people on a “constant monthly basis”.
We notice the clarity of figures of the arrivals compared to residents in European Union

We notice the clarity of figures of the arrivals compared to residents in European Union

The silver lining standing out about relocation figures is the distribution that has been planned to relocate 160,000 people showing how would be easy for EU to receipt the arrivals if people were sorted in a reasonable manner: in fact, if we compare figures of 2016, according to Eurostat estimates and UNCHR records, the European Union counts 510 million inhabitants and 361,678 landed people (181,405 in Italy and 173,447 in Greece).


We can therefore agree with ADIF’s consideration (Association for Rights and Frontiers):

It means that the current flow of non-European citizens is a crisis which generates an emergency and demands that they would be stopped in the first-entry country, in the region of arrival preferably, and that “secondary activities” towards other states were avoided.

Abeba’s story.


OIM contacted Progetto Itaca and the Abeba, Salim and Lidia have travelled to Rome by train where they received information about laws and civic cohabitation in Holland and, so they could be boarded on a flight to their destination. Abeba arrived in italy on a rescue boat in August 2016 and she immediately applied for relocation, pointing out that in Holland there is a brother that can support and host her. She escaped from Eritrea, where raising her daughters was not safe anymore, even if she left there an elder girl with her grandmother, hoping to be reunited asap. We can’t do anything but wish them good luck!


Currently Progetto Itaca hosts 19 Eritrean citizens: 6 single women, 1 family with a teenager and a child, 3 single-parent families composed by mother with two daughters, mother with on daughter and two sons, mother with one daughter. In thei application of relocation, they pointed out relationships in: Switzerland, Finland, England, Germany and Sweden.


“Reffering to migrants as “peolple” – men, women and children – is a necessary measure compared to the manner in which the institutional documets use terms such “migrant” or “refugee”.
∼ ADIF – Associazione Diritti e Frontiere


  • Agenda europea sulla migrazione. Commissione Europea
  • Decisioni del Consiglio d’Europa sulla relocation: – 2015/1523 del 14/09/2015; – 2015/1601 del 22/09/2015
  • Roadmap Italiana. Ministero dell’Interno
  • Rapporto “Hotspot Italia come le politiche dell’Unione Europea portano a violazioni dei diritti di rifugiati e migranti”. A cura di Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International



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