Projects in Italy

Rapid Response Fund

A cultural mediator from IOM is in conversation with a migrant to support him. Other migrants can be seen in the background.
Cultural mediator assisting migrants. © IOM

In 2023, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea and arriving in Italy has increased, mainly through the Central Mediterranean route (Tunisia, Libya). Other arrivals have been recorded also through the Eastern Mediterranean route (Türkiye) and the Balkan route (Slovenia). In order to facilitate communication between migrants, police and immigration offices, the Italian authorities work together with cultural mediators from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Switzerland finances the deployment of cultural mediators in August and September 2023 with 500 000 Swiss francs from the Rapid Response Fund of the Second Swiss Contribution. In September, it was decided to extend the funding for one month with additional 227 000 Swiss francs. In October, a no-cost-extension was approved to ensure that the activities can be continued in a reduced form with the remaining funds from the Second Swiss Contribution and IOM's own funds during the month of November. This support has been facilitated through the EU solidarity mechanism linked to the Migration and Asylum Pact.

Project description

Country / Region





Immediate support to identification and registration of migrants, including asylum-seekers at border police and immigration offices

01.08.2023 – 30.11.2023

CHF 727 000

Project description


Since the beginning of the year, Italy has been facing a high number of disembarkations. Between January and July 2023, more than 89'000 people arrived in Italy over sea. This represents an increase of 115 % compared with the same period last year. 12 % of all persons arriving are unaccompanied children. Law enforcement staff at borders needs qualified supporting teams that are able to quickly communicate with migrants and inform them about procedures, while ensuring that migrants’ rights and protection needs are respected and taken into consideration. Over the past years, the presence of qualified IOM staff has contributed to the good border management and fostered dialogue both with migrants and neighbouring authorities in the daily case management.


The project aims to improve and speed up identification and asylum procedures in Italy as well as to ensure that migrants receive appropriate treatment, giving special attention to vulnerable persons such as unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking.

Target groups of the project are migrants, mainly asylum seekers, arriving in Italy and the Italian border police and immigration offices.


56 cultural mediators are deployed in different regions of Italy, in locations with particularly high number of arrivals. They facilitate communication between authorities and migrants during identification and registration procedures that follow the emergency disembarkation events at Southern maritime disembarkation points, at the entry points across land borders in the Northern Regions as well as the asylum claims processed in the local police offices. Vulnerable migrants identified at the entry points will be properly assisted by the cultural mediators and referred to either the immigration office or the local referral system (social services, anti-trafficking network, reception centres for unaccompanied minors, shelters, etc.) to ensure adequate follow-up and protection.

Federal Authorities responsible

Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP / State Secretariat for Migration SEM