Let’s talk once again about Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (MSNAs) and immigrants in a witch-hunting climate that has not and will not influence the Diaconia Valdese’s commitment in the field of welcoming immigrants.
Again this year, thanks to the initiative “1€ PER” – which collects one euro for each guest staying in one of the Case Valdesi in Italy – the Diaconia Valdese will be able to allot a considerable sum to the MSNA projects it handles. From January to July 2017 we hosted 14,000 people and therefore, net of our guests’ donations, we will be transferring at least 14,000 euros to the fund.
In spite of the media campaign, which has been leading the public to believe that an actual invasion is taking place, from January to July this year the official number of landings on Italian coasts has dropped. According to the latest statistics, in the first 7 months of the year, the number of immigrants that disembarked was 95,211, of which 12,656 were minors, and 1,085 were unaccompanied.
Minors landing in Italy come primarily from the Horn of Africa, West Africa (Nigeria and the Gambia in the lead), Egypt and Syria. Between 2012 and 2016, according to details from the Ministry of the Interior, the number of unaccompanied minors received in hospitality facilities has grown to triple what it was. The commitment of national institutions and local authorities has been considerable, even in light of the adoption of comprehensive legislation – the first in Europe – that protects MSNAs (Unaccompanied Minors), and the DDL Zampa approved on March 29, 2017.
Going on to analyse data on minors welcomed, what is immediately noticeable is the increase in the number of girls of various ages – there were 440 in 2012; 1832 in 2016 – and their origins: 2/3 of the girls come from Nigeria and Eritrea. Those from Eritrea are mainly escaping the compulsory draft which leads to a state of semi-slavery, but the case of Nigerians recruited in villages and rural areas and introduced into a complex system of trafficking human is different.
The field research, the latest in the order of publication, the Atlas of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors drafted by Save the Children, and the testimonials of girls released to host reception workers – including our Nautilus in Florence – reconstructs the mechanisms of a system of exploitation that starts in Nigeria, with recruitment often endorsed by friends or relatives. It is then structured in Niger and Libya, where girls are forced into prostitution already in the “connection house”.
Our Nautilus reception home in Florence currently accommodates 5 Nigerian girls who are included in the child support and protection system; the girls followed an Italian language training course and one had the opportunity for an internship with a job grant at a company in the Florentine area, which then successfully turned into an apprenticeship contract. We are working to increase the chances for girls to attend the internships, with job grants made available by the Diaconia Valdese.
At the same time, the component of individual psychological support has been strengthened, that from now on includes the formation of an ethnical team consisting of an anthropologist, a psychologist and a cultural mediator.
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