The Italian island of Ventotene has called for migrant families with children to live on the island in order to keep schools running, repopulate the area and to set an example of integration.
The small Italian island of Ventotene, one of the Pontine Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea and where the manifesto for a united Europe was born, has called for migrant families to settle on it.
The aim is to repopulate the municipality, enable its school to keep running and become an example for others to follow the culture of integration, peace and welcoming of migrants. The call was made by Mayor Gerardo Santomauro and the administration to ward off the depopulation and aging of the community, as well as to get the local economy back on its feet.
Very few school-going children
Ventotene is a small island in the Gulf of Gaeta in the Latina province "with a great deal of tourist appeal. In the summer it is full of life, people and work," said Maria Ausilia Mancini, the mayor's assistant for communication.
She added that the idea of the island becoming "a gate to Europe and an island of peace" had been initiated by the residents and the town council and that the idea was to "take care of the population and the children, who have a right to education, as well as to reactivate work activities and give space to migrant families with children who will be able to integrate in the future."
Ventotene is currently losing its residents "due to lack of jobs, impossible transport and ever fewer services," she said. There are only seven children who want to go to school, and there are no extracurricular activities such as music and dance.
For this reason and "idealistic" ones as well, the local administration ''would like to host refugee families that can give the city hope to continue to be a place with youth in it."
Not let anyone feel like a foreigner
For a positive outcome of the project, "We must work with the institutions to find the right integration between those coming, those living in Ventotene and those who would like to return, even though they have moved," Mancini said.
For migrant families, she added, "there will be the possibility of living in the elderly people's home and, in agreement with the institutions, small jobs." The proposal still needs approval from the town council, but the administration is motivated, the official said.
The number of families to be taken in has not yet been decided, but Ventotene has only 200 residents in winter. The town council is also assessing how to cover the costs. In Ventotene, "We do not want anyone to feel like a foreigner, nor do we want the island's children to feel alone.We are confident we can do this and that we can do this together," Mancini concluded.