A young Ukrainian refugee in Italy | Photo: ANSA/ SAVE THE CHILDREN
A young Ukrainian refugee in Italy | Photo: ANSA/ SAVE THE CHILDREN

Save the Children and a juvenile court in the Sicilian city of Catania have signed a protocol to improve the hosting system and the protection of foreign unaccompanied minors. Nearly a quarter of unaccompanied migrant children and teens present in Italy are hosted in the region of Sicily.

The agreement, the first of its kind in Italy, is aimed at improving "the overall hosting and protection system" for unaccompanied minors and "to support the joint care of children and adolescents reported by judicial authorities, defining personalized education plans," Save the Children said during the signing ceremony.

Sicily is the first region in Italy for the number of unaccompanied migrant minors, hosting 2,712 children and teens, 22.7% of the total. That's just a little less than a quarter of minors present in the country overall, the NGO said.

A reported 110 unaccompanied Ukrainian minors have arrived in the area of Catania as of April 21 -- on average one in 16 who reach Italy after fleeing the war.

Protocol strengthens action of Catania's court

Actions to support foreign minors will reportedly be carried out in collaboration with UNICEF.

The protocol, which will be valid for two years, was signed on April 21 by the president of Catania's juvenile court, Roberto Di Bella, and the director of Save the Children's Italy-Europe programs, Raffaela Milano.

The collaboration with Save the Children, said Di Bella, represents "an absolute precedent in the protection of unaccompanied foreign minors, especially those coming from Ukraine's war zones."

The court's president went on to say that it also "boosts the juvenile court's action and will allow increasingly effective forms of protection, which respond to the needs of those who are in need."

Experimental intervention against educational poverty

The agreement is also reported to provide for the implementation of an experimental project to prevent and fight educational poverty and early school leaving in the city's district of San Giovanni Galermo, in collaboration with local associations.

Raffaela Milano said "one of the innovative points of the agreement" is the fact that children and adolescents are placed under the joint care of Save the Children, social services and other educational agencies, "primarily schools, contributing to the definition of personalized educational plans."

This, she said, would promote access to educational and social opportunities and help the continuation of education in the long run.


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