Two children playing at a detention center in Lampedusa. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI
Two children playing at a detention center in Lampedusa. PHOTO/ARCHIVE/ANSA/ETTORE FERRARI

The child protection authority in Italy and UNHCR have drafted a joint report denouncing that unaccompanied foreign minors living in hosting centers in the country have a variety of problems.

The authority for the protection of children and adolescents in Italy (Agia) and UNHCR have said in a joint report that unaccompanied foreign minors living in hosting centers often stay for too long, have little information regarding their situation and have a hard time socializing - even playing soccer can be a problem. The report included a number of recommendations for the government and institutions. 

The study titled 'Foreign unaccompanied minors: a participated evaluation on needs' focused on the situation at 15 first-reception centers and centers where migrants are subsequently hosted. A reported 80 percent of the centers surveyed provided insufficient information to the migrants, 53 percent had no activities helping migrants socialize while 47 percent hosted migrants for much longer than the 30 days provided for by the law. 

The most significant problem reported by operators managing centers was the length of time required to appoint tutors. Among other things, minors and operators reported that it is not possible for unaccompanied foreign minors to get a soccer federation's membership to play to play football. 

The proposals of minors 

The proposals made by the minors included a personalized integration system, meeting with local communities to fight racism and regular contacts with families to get to know Italian culture. ''We could spend Sundays together'', some said. They also asked for Italian-language courses, the possibility to socialize with peers and voluntary tutors. ''Listening to underage people is indispensable to understand their needs and opinions and therefore to ensure the respect of their rights'' stressed Felipe Camargo, UNHCR representative for southern Europe. ''With this important initiative, we want to ensure measures for these children and adolescents who are especially vulnerable that adequately satisfy their specific need for protection and development''. 

The report's recommendations 

The recommendations in the report are ''the result of a consultation process with underage people who were interviewed by the authority during the visits'', said Filomena Albano. In a statement, the authority urged the Italian government, the judiciary's self-governing body Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM), minor courts, regional presidents and regional child protection authorities to guarantee, among other things, that minors travelling to Italy alone, have somewhere where they feel safe to talk, especially if they are fleeing war and persecution. Courts and guarantors were also asked to provide information on the required role of tutors. 

The report also urged to uniformly implement across the territory procedures to reconnect families as provided for by the Dublin III regulation. Agia and UNHCR called on institutions to ensure that residencies in emergency hosting centers that are not highly qualified are limited in time. (The photo shows ).

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