A court in the Italian city of Milan ruled that the coronavirus situation in a migrant’s country of origin will be taken into account when deciding which migrant can stay in the country. According to the ruling, migrants could be endangered by a lack of medical staff, equipment, or intensive care beds if they are returned to their country of origin. As the Italian ANSA news agency branch focused on the Mediterranean area reported, a court in Milan ruled that the risk of COVID-19 infection could be used as a reason for granting humanitarian protection. This so-called humanitarian protection status is given to those who do not obtain refugee status but would be at risk if they would return to their country of origin. However, each case would be reportedly assessed individually and migrants will not receive automatic protection.
In the decision process, authorities will take into account whether COVID-19 negatively affects the health care and economy of the migrant’s country of origin, i.e. whether he or she would be at risk of lack of health care or hunger as a result of the pandemic. The Italian media reported that the court’s decision concerns applications submitted before the changes introduced by the then Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini in 2018. According to Italian judges, the pandemic must be considered a risk factor in deciding whether a migrant is entitled to humanitarian protection as he or she could face issues in the country of origin due to the lack of intensive care beds, the lack of lung ventilators, or the lack of hospital staff. With Italy’s left-wing government relaxing rules at the border, the country has seen a massive surge in migrants entering the country in the last year. Title image: Migrants wait to board a coast guard ship that will take them to the GNV Rhapsody ferry moored off Lampedusa island, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 5 , 2020. Italian officials have been hastily chartered ferries and put other measures into place to fight severe overcrowding at migrant centers on the tiny island of Lampedusa. (AP Photo/Mauro Seminara)