A migrant waits to disembark from the Spanish ship 'Rio Segura' in the harbour of Salerno, Italy, 29 June 2017 | Photo: ANSA/CIRO FUSCO
A migrant waits to disembark from the Spanish ship 'Rio Segura' in the harbour of Salerno, Italy, 29 June 2017 | Photo: ANSA/CIRO FUSCO

What are the risks, vulnerabilities, dreams and needs of unaccompanied minors of foreign origin hosted in Italian migrant reception centers? This was the question that a joint report by the Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents (AGIA) and the UN's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) tried to answer.

Unaccompanied minors of foreign origin hosted in Italian migrant reception centers want a higher level of inclusion, according to a recent report issued by the Italian Ombudsman for Children an Adolescents (AGIA) and UNHCR. The findings were presented last week in Rome by ombudsman Filomena Albano and UNHCR Spokesperson for Southern Europe, Carlotta Sami. 


Lack of info and orientation activities 

The study, Albano and Sami said, highlighted the risks, vulnerabilities, dreams and needs of unaccompanied minors of foreign origin hosted in Italian migrant reception centers. 

Some 22 centers were visited in 11 Italian regions and 203 minors from 21 countries took part. 

One of the most noted issues in 80 percent of the centers visited was a lack of information and orientation activities. 

In 53 percent of the cases, a lack of socialization was cited and in 47 percent of them, the stays in initial or emergency reception facilities lasted well over the 30-day limit set by the law. 

Moreover, center directors complained of lengthy waiting periods prior to tutors being assigned to the minors. They also reported that it was impossible to get the youths on football teams signed up to the Italian football federation, since a parent needs to sign for the registration. 

Some 80 percent of minors involved asked for more information on how to file requests for international protection and 60 percent of those asked for more on the functioning of the territorial commission, which is tasked with assessing the requests. 

Activities for minors 

''Listening and participation are the axes on which a wide-ranging work plan was created over the past two years with UNHCR,'' Albano said. ''The youths hosted by the asylum seekers and refugees protection system (SPRAR) of Florence and Pescara, for example, brought their experience to training courses for those wanting to be volunteer tutors. 

Those in Rome took part in photography workshops, which resulted in the 'Io So(g)no' ('I Am and I Dream') at the Ara Pacis Museum starting on June 19. The activities enabled the minors to feel part of a process in which they were an active part alongside adults,'' she added. 

''Children constitute almost half the refugee population in the world, many of whom spend their childhood far from home,'' Sami said. ''It is very important to collaborate with the minors themselves to ensure their protection, strengthening active participation mechanism in the decisions concerning them, including through collaborating with national authorities like AGIA.''
 

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