From 16 to 21 October 2016, the Secretary General’s Special Representative on migration and refugees, Ambassador Tomáš Boček, was in Italy on a fact-finding mission. He visited hotspots at Lampedusa and Pozzallo, first and second line reception facilities in Palermo, Caltanissetta, Mineo and Rome, an establishment for unaccompanied minors in Palermo and an expulsion centre in Caltanissetta. He also visited transit camps and informal settlements, including Palazzo Selam and an emergency night shelter for unaccompanied minors in Rome, and the new Red Cross camp in Como. During the mission, he met with representatives of central government, the local authorities, the police and the prosecution service, the coast guard, the UNHCR, UNICEF, the IOM and other civil society organisations. He will now prepare a report setting out his findings and proposing ways in which the Council of Europe can assist the Italian authorities in meeting the challenges they currently face.
Ambassador Boček published his report on the situation in the camps of Calais and Grande-Synthe on 14 October 2016. In view of the then imminent closure of the “Jungle” camp, he expressed concern that detailed plans had yet to be disclosed by the French authorities for the accommodation and care of all those in the camp, in particular unaccompanied minors and families. He also stressed that, independently of the fate of “the Jungle”, the Council of Europe could offer assistance to the French authorities by strengthening civil society to improve the provision of information on legal rights, reducing the lengthy delays for submitting asylum applications in the Calais area and improving integration policies.