Following the 2015 migrant crisis, France committed itself to receiving some of the asylum seekers who had massively arrived in Italy. This commitment was made after the Council of the European Union decisions on 14 and 22/09/2015.
In order to facilitate the handling of such crisis and the implementation of asylum seekers relocation, the OFII created the position of liaison officer in Italy, within the French Consulate in Rome.
The missions of the liaison officer since 2015
The first concerns relocation
The OFII liaison Officer in Italy is in permanent contact with the Italian and French authorities, the European Commission representation in Italy, the European Union Agency for Asylum and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). This position allows him, after conveying the relocation propositions decided by France, to receive and formulate the transfer requests for the relocated people, and to prepare their reception in France in good legal and material conditions.
The liaison officer ensures that the designated migrants are eligible for this relocation process. He visits the various accommodation centres (CARA) to carry out, alongside the IOM, cultural orientations before the migrants are transferred. When needed, if the group is significant, the liaison officer helps the IOM in the Fiumicino airport (near Rome) at departure. Previously, he communicates the possible vulnerabilities to the OFII medical service, as far as he has been notified by Italian authorities or by the IOM physician.
In this way, in 2015, 635 Eritrean migrants were relocated in France. After the 13 November terrorist attack, in 2015, France asked Italian authorities to tighten security checks before transferring migrants to France.
The liaison officer participated in the organisation of these interviews in the reception centre where the migrants are settled. They had been provided with independent premises guaranteeing confidentiality and with adequate interpreting in their native language. The health conditions of the relocation candidates were also adapted during the Covid pandemic.
French consulate in Rome, where the OFII Liaison Officer office is located
At the end of the 2 years provided by the Council of Europe decisions in September 2017, a new framework for the relocation procedure had been implemented from June 2018 onwards.
From an operational point of view, it has been decided that each State willing to participate in asylum seekers relocation would commit to receiving a fixed number of migrants rescued at sea.
Relocation operations have been carried out until the end of June 2021, the date of the last transfer towards France. Within this new framework between 2018 and 2021, 611 migrants from various nationalities overall have been relocated from Italy to France.
The liaison officer carries out a monitoring activity thanks to his position and his relationships.
This is why he has to work on files as diverse as the voluntary return system in Italy, the reception system for foreigners in Italy, the asylum procedure, the integration, and more recently, the reception in Italy of Afghans evacuated in August 2021 after the fall of Kabul.
Today, this monitoring activity has been extended to the reception of Ukrainian nationals.