Foreigners are being offered €700 monthly for three years to populate rural areas of Italy. While the town of Caltanissetta in Sicily, Italy, is opening the doors of its vacant homes to asylum seekers, who have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya, the southern region of Molise is giving the migrants €700 monthly to stay in one of its villages for three years, The GuardianUK reports.
The migrants are, however, mandated to open a business and the population of each village is to be kept under 2,000.
“We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything.
“It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” Donato Toma, President of Molise, said.
Toma said if a village can keep its population under 2,000, they will be given €10,000 per month to build infrastructure and hold cultural activities.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in the second quarter of 2018, Nigerians and Guineans made up 13 per cent of the migrant population in Italy.
Most Italian villages are looking for ways to keep themselves alive. The Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat), says Molise, with a population of 305,000, has lost over 9,000 inhabitant since 2014.
According to The GuardianUK, in 2018, more than 2,800 inhabitants of Molise died or moved to another area, almost 1,000 more than the previous year. Not a single birth was registered in nine of its towns.
Istat says that the number of Italian citizens living in Italy has fallen to about 55 million.
In 2014-18 the number of Italian citizens resident in the country fell by 677,000. Two factors are behind the decline, according to experts: a decrease in births, which is at an all-time low since the unification of Italy, and an increase in the migration of young people to other European countries in search of job opportunities. Nearly 157,000 people left the country in 2018, Istat said.
Italy is the only major European economy whose population is expected to decline further in the next five years, the UN has said. It ranks second – behind Japan – as the country with the greatest proportion of older people, with an estimated 168.7 over-65s for every 100 young people.