The Child-Sized Space set up by Caritas and Save the Children in Ventimiglia | Photo: ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA (Press Office) Save the Children
The Child-Sized Space set up by Caritas and Save the Children in Ventimiglia | Photo: ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA (Press Office) Save the Children

Caritas and Save The Children have set up a 'Child-Sized Space' to give children transiting through with their families a calm space for recreation. The large tent was created to offer support and protection to families traveling with their young children.

The organizations Save the Children and Caritas Intemelia have created a space especially designed for migrant children passing through Italy's northwestern border city of Ventimiglia.

The place aims to give the children a bit of calm and a place to play, where they can go back to being children after lengthy, exhausting, and dangerous journeys.

It also intends to give their parents the possibility to engage in talk, to ascertain vulnerabilities and needs and to access services.The space is a large tent with activities for families in transit and their children. It is designed as a protected space to enable the children to play, socialize, learn, and express themselves despite the emergency context in which they find themselves.

In the first weeks since it was opened on March 10 in one of Caritas' internal courtyards in the city of Ventimiglia, the Child-Sized Space has been used by infants only a few months old to 17-year-olds for games, exercise, and drawing.

The adults accompanying them made use of specialized talks and access to Caritas services.The families visiting came for the most part from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Algeria, Iraq, Somalia, Guinea, Sudan, and Ivory Coast.

Ventimiglia, city of migrant arrival and transit

Save The Children noted that Ventimiglia has never ceased to be a city of arrival and transit for migrants coming from both the Balkan route and the southern border.

The organization's team, which has had a permanent presence on the ground there since 2018, registered contacts with about 200 foreign-born unaccompanied and supported minors in 2020 alone in the city of Ventimiglia. The team also made a number of visits to the Roma camp Campo Roma (until it was closed on July 31, 2020), as well as 42 family units accommodating 81 accompanied minors.

Many families with children that Save the Children met with said that they had been pushed back at the border by French authorities, sometimes more than once, which was confirmed by unaccompanied minors as well.

'Minors must be protected'

"Ventimiglia has for years been at a crossroads of migration routes, requiring intervention by institutions in the network with civil society actors that are constantly on the ground.

Raffaela Milano, the director of Italian and EU Programs for Save the Children said that they were expecting possible increases in the numbers of migrants hoping to cross through the area this spring and therefore it "is absolutely necessary to strengthen the reception and protection network to ensure the basic rights of all minors."

Minors "are among the most vulnerable" on the migration routes, continued Milano, "and should be protected with measures especially designed for them. It is necessary, as part of the reform of the asylum and migration system at the European level, to provide protection mechanisms that makes their interests a priority."

Milano added that it was particularly necessary "to create safe and regular access to EU territory, provide obligatory relocation mechanisms between states and [engage in] an overhaul of the Dublin system, which is one of the main causes of the 'internal movement' of migrants and refugees between EU states, with the risks that this entails for the most vulnerable, like minors:"

 

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