The collection of data on projects and funding occupied a large part of the research work, developed between September 2020 and January 2021. In addition to consulting databases and archives available online, we were able to access an archive of documents made available by the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), linked to a series of document access requests made between 2018 and 2020, as part of the Sciabaca and Oruka Project.
We considered as migratory projects all those projects carried out in third countries or in collaboration with them, or along the so-called Central Mediterranean route, which alternatively:
- Identify migration as a primary objective or among the primary objectives of the intervention, as reported in documents describing the project, funding, or in related calls for tender
- Do not have a direct and primary objective of intervention on migration, but are an integral part of programs, funding, and initiatives whose purpose is the management of migration.
Additional selection criteria:
- Origin of funds: allocations and disbursements of funds arranged directly by Italian governmental bodies and by institutional bodies of the European Union are taken into account, but only in the event of related projects and funds being implemented by Italian governmental bodies;
- Timeframe: for the selection of funds and compilation of the database, all the loans arranged or disbursed from January 2015 to November 2020 were considered, whether the relevant projects have already been completed or are still in progress;
- Geographical criteria: the wall described in this project starts from the central Mediterranean and reaches more than twenty African countries; this does not mean that similar policies are not also implemented in countries affected by the so-called Syrian crisis, where Italy manages important cooperation programs. Here, however, the framework for containing migration is weaker and more fragmented.
- Implementing actors: public or private bodies that manage or implement the project on behalf of the donor are considered to be implementing actors. Therefore any part of the financing which was subcontracted, in the form of tenders or contracts for other subjects, is not taken into consideration when identifying the implementing actors, at a statistical level.
- Expenditure Categories: while examining, when available, the classification of projects identified according to the OECD DAC indexes/markers, given the mixed composition of funds, relating not only to development cooperation but also to the security, humanitarian, governance, and management of the migration phenomenon, 8 ad hoc spending categories were adopted, namely:
- Root causes: development cooperation projects aimed at intervening in countries of origin and transit on the social and economic conditions motivating the departure of people from African countries by promoting training and employment paths;
- Border control: interventions to support third country governments and security forces to strengthen the control of their land and air borders, through equipment and supply of means, training, supervision, involvement of border communities, and surveillance and monitoring interventions of the central Mediterranean in order to reduce or prevent crossings from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt;
- Governance: support to the authorities of third countries to adopt measures to manage the migration phenomenon (adoption of regulations, strengthening of institutional systems);
- Protection: humanitarian assistance interventions in third countries, aimed at the protection of refugees, internally displaced persons, vulnerable populations;
- Awareness: information campaigns on the risk associated with the choice of migrating to Europe and with irregular migration more generally;
- Anti-trafficking: initiatives aimed at combating the trafficking and smuggling of human beings, in collaboration with third countries or along the Italian and European maritime borders;
- Returns: funds for forced return programs, assisted voluntary return from Italy or countries of transit, and reintegration in countries of origin;
- Legal entry channels: access programs to Italy for third-country nationals, tied to partnership agreements for the movement of labor, or the reception in Italy of refugees, asylum seekers, and foreign citizens in a situation of vulnerability. Seasonal entry quotas, established annually by law for access to the Italian labor market for workers from non-European countries are not considered, but only funding related to ad hoc cooperation programs is.
These categories of expenditure are not exclusive, so much so that when the same fund crosses more than one category, up to a maximum of three, this multiple identity has been maintained. The overlapping and interpenetration of interventions in different areas is a key feature of the appropriations for the external dimension of migration. At a statistical level, since the exact expenditure for each category of the same fund cannot be traced, when a project falls into more than one category the total budget has been divided equally by number of categories.
Have we been able to reconstruct all the funds destined to this ‘external dimension’ of migration? We would like to say yes, but it’s not the case. There are in fact funds of which there is no trace, such as that slice of Africa Fund managed by the Italian secret services. Others we haven’t been able to find, despite extensive research. And there are others still, which are included in larger budget items: think for example of the cost of police personnel during forced repatriation, and more generally the series of expenses related to the operation of the monitoring and patrolling system in the central Mediterranean by the Italian security forces.
This expenditure is also continuously growing. So if you have any information or recommendations, we welcome them.