The data recorded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates that 341,000 migrants had arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean at start November 2016, landing mainly on the coasts of Italy and Greece. The number who died at sea also rose in 2016 to a total of 4271 persons.
In its Uprooted report, UNICEF describes a world in which there are 50 million migrant or refugee children and infants in the world. Of these, 28 million are fleeing from war and social unrest. Minors represent the most vulnerable age group and their vulnerability is growing. There are 11 million minors who are refugees or asylum seekers, which means that 1 of 3 minors living outside their nation of origin is a refugee or asylum seeker, as against the ratio for adults, 1 of 20.
The data collected by Save the Children Italia during the first ten months of 2016, indicates that at least 20,160 unaccompanied minors arrived in Italy. This is twice the number of 2015 and raises the percentage of minors to 14% of all the arrivals.
So, who are the unaccompanied foreign minors?
Italian jurisprudence identifies them as minors who do not have Italian citizenship or that of another European Union state, and that they are on Italian territory without the assistance or representation of their parents or an adult of reference. Unaccompanied minors who arrive in Italy are entrusted to the social services of the municipalities where they are located, that is where they land. Practically speaking, this means that about 40% of these minors are taken in by small municipalities in Sicily. The majority are males (94%), between 16 and 17 years of age, and come from Egypt, Gambia, Albania, Eritrea, Nigeria and Somalia. Unfortunately, many of them subsequently “disappear” into the growing numbers of those who are exploited and enslaved. At the beginning of 2016, a Europol report indicated that 10,000 minors had disappeared between 2014 and 2015, of which 5000 in Italy.
The system of reception is evidently inefficient and inadequate. The critical difficulties of the system, which have never been resolved at the structural level, are a burden for the future of children and adolescents. At end October 2016, the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament finally approved a law that reforms the reception of unaccompanied foreign minors and provides for the application of a procedure to establish their age; the creation of structures specifically dedicated to receiving children and adolescents; the right to education and healthcare; and, finally, the right to be heard in the administrative and judiciary proceedings that concern them even in the absence of a tutor and legal assistance. The law puts the minor at the centre of attention, considering the minor to be essentially a child.
With the 1€ Per project the Waldensian Houses assist unaccompanied foreign minors. Help us with a donation of your own.
You can contribute directly with a donation via bank transfer:
Address it to “Commissione Sinodale per la Diaconia”
SWIFT/BIC CODE: BCITITMX
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