A young Sudanese migrant living with other immigrants along the Roya river in the border town of Ventimiglia | Photo: OXFAM
A young Sudanese migrant living with other immigrants along the Roya river in the border town of Ventimiglia | Photo: OXFAM

Associations for migrants' rights have sounded alarm over the situation of unaccompanied minor migrants in Ventimiglia, an Italian city on the border with France. Young men and women don't have a specific reception center for their needs and are exposed to abuse and violence.

There are 24 foreign unaccompanied minors (MSNA), including three young women, who are being hosted at the adult migrant reception center "Parco Roja" in Ventimiglia as of December 11, 2017. In addition to 426 adults, there are nine women alone and 30 families, according to information released recently by several migrants' rights associations, including Intersos and the Association for Judicial Studies on Immigration (ASGI). 

The associations have written to various public institutions, including the prefect of the province of Imperia, Silvana Tizzano, calling for the opening of a dedicated migrant reception center for minors. The associations said that Italian law "requires reception of MSNA in structures intended exclusively for minors, and it prohibits their placement in centres for adults", where "there are no separated, protected areas for minors where they can be safe, nor restrooms set aside for them" and "there are no workers within the centres who are assigned to assist" children and young men and women. 

Risk of violence and abuse 

At the Parco Roja center, the associations said, "numbers are highly variable: on November 30, in fact, there were 38 minors". The associations said they are "very worried for the situation of numerous foreign unaccompanied minors who are in Ventimiglia outside the reception system, on the shores of the Roja River". Living in "makeshift shelters, without heat or restrooms, without access to drinking water and food, exposed to abuse and violence. There is also the presence of some young women minors, who are often victims of sexual assault, some who whom have small children". 

Often the minors who wish to reach relatives in France or other European countries "don't accept being transferred in places more than 150 kilometers from the border, and therefore they stay on the Roja River or after transfer they flee to return to Ventimiglia", the associations said. 

An appeal for a center for minors 

Placing unaccompanied minors in a reception center not dedicated exclusively to them "represents a serious violation of the (national) law" and "of numerous EU and international laws", the associations said. During 2017, "various appeals have been filed with the European Court for Human Rights to protect MSNA placed in adult reception centres, following which the Court ordered five precautionary measures according to Article 39 of the Rules of Court, ordering the Italian government to transfer the appellants to adequate structures, ensuring reception conditions in line with internal and international law in terms of protection of unaccompanied minors", the associations said. "We hope that the illegitimate practice of the lack of reception for MSNA stops immediately," they said.

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