A space for migrant minors built in Ventimiglia by Caritas and Save The Children | Photo:ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA SAVE THE CHILDREN
A space for migrant minors built in Ventimiglia by Caritas and Save The Children | Photo:ARCHIVE/ANSA/UFFICIO STAMPA SAVE THE CHILDREN

During 2020, a helpline set up by Save the Children in Italy to assist migrants under the age of 18 helped a total of 1,115 people. The main issues dealt with included the interruption of educational activities, the suspension of family reunification procedures, and the lack of meetings with volunteer guardians.

Being in a foreign country without knowing the language, habits, services available, or opportunities in the year of the COVID-19 pandemic with all the stress and disorienting nature it entailed was a challenge for migrant children in Italy.

This contributed to the emergence of new needs linked to the public health emergency, according to the 2020 report drawn up by a helpline for migrant minors run by the Organization Save the Children.

Over the course of 2020, the helpline received 1,276 phone calls from both children and adults and 1,115 people were assisted including 608 minors -- both accompanied and unaccompanied -- and 507 adults, including staff from reception facilities, people who had recently reached the age of adulthood, and other working in the sector who requested support for cultural and linguistic mediation with young migrants.

77% requests for help from Sicily, 17 average age

Among the main difficulties and obstacles that minors and those who have recently reached the age of adulthood faced in 2020, according to the helpline run by Save the Children, were:

  • the interruption of educational activities
  • the suspension of the activities of the immigration and territorial commission for the recognition of refugee status,
  • the suspension of family reunification procedures and the halt to transfers,
  • and the lack of meetings with volunteer guardians for unaccompanied minors, despite the fact that for these unaccompanied minors the guardians are the closest people to them since their parents are not in Italy.

The 2020 report showed that most of the minors who called the helpline were male (84%) and age 17 (63%), which reflects the composition of presences in Italian reception centers.

Most came from one of three countries: Bangladesh (45%), Somalia (17%), or Eritrea (9%).

The vast majority of the requests for help from the helpline were made in Sicily: 77%.

Some 507 adults also benefited from the helpline services, most of whom were women (57%) and reception facility staff (50%), for linguistic and legal support for unaccompanied minors they were tasked with.

Some 64% of the adults that used the services offered by the helpline were of Italian nationality, followed by Bangladeshi (5%) and other nationalities.

Figures on arrivals in Italy in 2020

Out of a total of 34,154 people who had arrived in Italy over the course of the year ending on December 31, 2020, some 4,687 were unaccompanied minors, most of whom coming from Tunisia (31.7%), Bangladesh (22.5%) and Somalia (6.2%).

The number of unaccompanied minors already in Italy as of the same date were 7,080 (16.9% more than 2019 and 34.4% fewer than 2018).

A whopping 96.4% of them were males with a 1.6% drop in the percentage of females on the previous year.

Seventeen-year-olds rose in percentage of the total (66.9%), while 21.8% were 16, 6.6% 15 and 4.8% under 15.

The main countries of origin were Bangladesh (1,558) and Tunisia (1,084), with a 14% and 10.7% rise on 2019.

In 2020, a total of 753 requests for international protection were filed for unaccompanied minors and 183 asylum-seeking minors were inserted into family reunification procedures in line with the Dublin Rule.

There were 24 outgoing files and 159 incoming for minors that had already requested asylum in another member state and who reported the presence of a family member in Italy.

The helpline Minori Migranti in Italy can be reached under: Free line: 800141016 Lycamobile: 3512202016


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