Interior Minister Matteo Salvini Matteo Salvini "welcomed" at the hotspot by people chanting 'Matteo, Matteo', on June 3, 2018. ANSA
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini Matteo Salvini "welcomed" at the hotspot by people chanting 'Matteo, Matteo', on June 3, 2018. ANSA

At the Italian migrant hotspot of Pozzallo, the first house for migrant children helps them forget their traumatic past.

The migrant hotspot of Pozzallo is overcrowded after the arrival of two Italian ships, the 'Protector' and 'Monte Sperone' on Monday. There are currently 436 guests, including 131 minors. Only three children are accompanied by their parents. 

The situation is not easy to manage but the system is designed to help migrant children, said the director of the hotspot, Emilia Pluchinotta, to local police. "When they knock at the door, we are able to open any time and we are not afraid of surprise visits". 

Support for children 

The director said that Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico paid a surprise visit and "was able to see in person how the center works and is structured, the way in which the rights of minors in particular are respected with a reserved area for them". Inside the hotspot, she continued, adults and children are welcomed in different areas "to preserve their privacy and especially to protect minors". 

Many children and teens arrived aboard the two vessels on July 16. They were over 100 who are now being assisted by psychologists, the director said. "Many are afraid, they have been imprisoned for months in Libya in unhealthy places with little dignity. When they arrive here they are initially reserved but they subsequently open up when they feel that we are on their side", said Pluchinotta. 

"We try to make them forget what they experienced, tragedies that are hard to cancel. But we try. Each one of them has a story, some are painful and have a bitter taste while others are a source of hope in a better future". 

A different hotspot 

Hotspots are usually thought to be closed places that are not hospitable. Pozzallo is different and was complimented by delegations of Italian and European MPs who visited, said Pluchinotta. "Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was also surprised by our organization and paid us compliments. There are spaces dedicated to the youngest children to play and spaces to help their literacy. The organization focuses on details because we have to put migrants in the best psychological condition after days of traveling and months of detention. Pozzallo has hospitality in its DNA, it is not racist, except in a few cases, no episodes of intolerance against a foreigner have been registered".

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