Andrea Iacomini, journalist and spokesperson for the Italian Committee of UNICEF | Photo: ANSA/Massimo Percossi
Andrea Iacomini, journalist and spokesperson for the Italian Committee of UNICEF | Photo: ANSA/Massimo Percossi

UNICEF is calling on Italy to reform its citizenship rules. The UN children's agency demands a birthright law (also known as "Jus soli"), which would grant Italian citizenship to children from migrant and refugee families.

Almost thirty years after the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, "much has been done, but there is (still) much to do," said Andrea Iacomini, UNICEF Italia spokesperson, in an interview with Italian news agency ANSA on Wednesday.

Iacomini said in particular, "we would like to be able to calmly discuss Jus soli." Jus soli is another term for birthright citizenship -- the idea that everyone born in Italy should be given the Italian citizenship, regardless of their parents' citizenships.

Calling for birthright citizenship

Pro-migrant organizations and the Democratic Party in Italy are pushing for a reform of the citizenship law to introduce Jus soli, while right-wing parties -- especially Matteo Salvini's League Party -- are against it. The issue is hotly contested in Italy.

"We hope that the fratricidal 'guerrilla warfare' ends," Iacomini said. "We hope that politicians can give us this gift, sitting down again around the table to speak about it calmly."

He said that he was rooting for the "the one million children [born to foreign parents] who have always lived in Italy, attending our schools and speaking our dialects" to soon be recognized as citizens.

'Unacceptable' deaths in the Mediterranean

Iacomini also expressed hope regarding Italy's policy on Mediterranean migrant rescues.

"We really appreciated hearing Premier Draghi say, on an international stage, the word 'unacceptable' with regards to the deaths of migrant children. It is a good sign of hope that a solution will be found on the issue of rescues at sea. Just as we appreciate the effort on vaccinations in the poorest countries," he said.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recently reacted to images of dead children, washed up on Libya's shores, saying: "Images of bodies of babies and toddlers washed up on a beach in Libya are unacceptable."

Italy's collaboration with the Libyan coast guard has been much criticized, and many migrant rights activists, as well as the Council of Europe, have called on Italy and the Europeam Union to do more to save the lives of migrants in the Mediterranean.


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