Coronavirus: Italian NGO uses pandemic to push for mass amnesty for migrants

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An Italian NGO is calling for authorities to issue a mass amnesty for the approximately 700,000 illegal migrants who live in Italy in order to ensure they have access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement the 3 Febbraio NGO published earlier this week, it claims that all migrants should be issued residence permits, as “it is an injustice that those who do not have papers are literally trapped. They do not have the right to healthcare, nor can they freely help those close to them”.

Therefore, the NGO calls for “a general amnesty for all the refugees and immigrants currently in Italy”.

The move could be inspired by a similar statement by European Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic, who is demanding the release for as many migrants as possible from detention centers across Europe amid coronavirus pandemic.

According to 3 Febbraio, migrants’ standard of living has deteriorated due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Living conditions have grown worse: asylum seekers are stuck and crowded together in centers, many others are exploited in the fields or factories, and others are losing their jobs with no safety net,” the NGO says, calling for dealing with the COVID-19 emergency “together in a humane manner”.

Italy is one of the countries that has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Bloomberg, as of April 3, over 115,000 cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in the country, while almost 14,000 patients have succumbed to the disease so far.

No plan for how economically ravaged Italy can pay for migrants’ healthcare needs

Italy has one of the largest migrant populations within Europe, given its geographic location at the southern border of the EU. In 2008, The Boston Globe estimated 670,000 illegal migrants lived in the country while Pew Research estimated up to 700,000 in 2019.

Despite coronavirus sending the Italian economy in free fall, the 3 Febbraio NGO offers no plan for how Italy will pay for the healthcare needs of migrants after granting them amnesty.

Italy already has a drastic shortage in hospital beds and will face, along with the rest of Europe, a long road to economic recovery after the crisis is over.

At the same time, 3 Febbraio NGO’s plan is similar to other NGO plans being pushed in other European countries.

In Great Britain, Migrants’ Rights Network and 50 other so-called charities wrote an open letter calling for the release of illegal migrants in detention and using taxpayers’ money for their housing accommodations during the coronavirus crisis.

An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million illegal migrants live in Britain but the open letter stated that funds should be directed to migrants to “ensure that everyone, regardless of immigration status, can access self-contained accommodation and self-isolate safely”.

Under the plan, the UK government would book hotels, use empty houses, and turn university dorms into domiciles for illegal migrants.

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