A young migrant disembarks from the Sea-Watch 3 search-and-rescue ship as they dock in the port of Catania, Italy, 31 January 2019 | Photo: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO
A young migrant disembarks from the Sea-Watch 3 search-and-rescue ship as they dock in the port of Catania, Italy, 31 January 2019 | Photo: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO

Humanitarian organization Intersos has said that the implementation of the Salvini Decree has created an "emergency" because thousands of youths over the age of 18 can now no longer stay in reception centers. The situation in Sicily is reportedly particularly bad.

After the security and migration decree - also known as the 'Salvini Decree' - came into force in Italy, the "emergency of migrants landings" was replaced by a different "emergency," Intersos has warned. Thousands of youths can no longer stay in reception facilities after they turn 18, leaving many of them homeless, the humanitarian organization said. 

In a report entitled "Isola dei minori" (Island of Minors), Intersos analyzed the consequences of the Salvini decree for migrant youths, especially im Sicily with special focus on Sicily.  

Read more: The ‘Salvini decree’: Your questions answered

'Minors condemned to exclusion'

Due to the new regulations, "asylum seekers and those holding stay permits for humanitarian reasons are excluded [from] the second-level reception system", Intersos said in a statement. "Due to the decree, there is no longer the possibility for those granted humanitarian protection to be able to be hosted in first-level reception centers or in emergency reception facilities." 

When unaccompanied minors turn 18, "those granted humanitarian protection must leave the facilities for minors without the possibility of being inserted into an adult reception center. Most of them, when they reach the age of adulthood, lose the right to reception and are left in the streets," the organization said. 

"Even if they are doing well in integrating, even if they are attending school or engaged in training, these youths become foreigners who are living here in an undocumented manner, condemned to social exclusion, exploitation by the black market and the risk of involvement in illegal activities," said Elena Rozzi, Intersos Migration Advocacy officer. 

The Sicily case 

Intersos said that the situation is particularly bad in Sicily. Until late 2018, over 4,700 unaccompanied minors were hosted in reception facilities there - that's 42 percent of all unaccompanied minors in Italy. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, about 2,000 of them turned 18 and thus reached the age of legal adulthood in early 2019. 

The organization said that the impending homelessness for migrant youths who turned 18 was the most urgent issue. But young migrants who are living in Italy without their families also face other problems. "The most difficult situations are those of reception centers located in isolated places, far from essential services - especially schools - and not connected with public transport," Intersos stressed. "Many minors, also, remain in the first-level reception centers for very long periods, even until they become adults, without ever being transferred to second-level ones [...] Due to these elements, in many reception centers no interventions are made to promote social inclusion and autonomy of minors."

Cesare Fermi, head of the Intersos Migration Unit, said: "The drop in migrant landings has made it possible, at least in part, to overcome problems that arose in Sicily in 2016 and 2017. However, the price paid for this reduction in migrants, including minors, reaching Italy via sea has been very high."

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