On 24 March 2022 in Moldova, children play and draw at the "Blue Dot" centre in the Moldexpo centre for refugees | Photo: ANSA/US UNICEF
On 24 March 2022 in Moldova, children play and draw at the "Blue Dot" centre in the Moldexpo centre for refugees | Photo: ANSA/US UNICEF

The UN refugee agency and UNICEF have opened at the border of the northeastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia two 'Blue Dots' -- areas to support minors, women, families and people with special needs who are fleeing the war in Ukraine.

The two support areas were opened on Thursday (April 21) in the northeastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, at the Slovenia border crossings of Fernetti (Trieste) and Tarvisio (Udine).

The so-called "Blue Dots" were created to support minors, women, families and children with specific needs who are fleeing the war in Ukraine, UNHCR and UNICEF said in a statement.

According to the two organizations, nearly 100,000 refugees have arrived in Italy since the start of the conflict on February 24, including over 50,000 women and more than 35,000 children. More than 93,000 of the refugees have crossed into Italy through the border crossings of Fernetti and Tarvisio.

First aid for most urgent needs

The Blue Dots centers were activated in partnership with leading aid organizations including ARCI, D.i.Re (Women's network against violence) and Save the Children. They're meant to provide a first response "to the most urgent needs of people who arrive," according to the statement.

Services offered include identification and assistance provided to minors at risk and people with specific needs, who are placed under the care of local social services. They also include initial psychological and social support and basic legal advice, the organizations said. There are "refreshment points and tailor-made areas for women and children."

Cardoletti (UNHCR), 'a concrete response'

"The risk for refugees of becoming victims of gender-based violence, trafficking, abuse, psychological trauma or of becoming separated from their families is very high, especially in light of the fact that nearly 90% of people fleeing Ukraine are women and children," stressed Chiara Cardoletti, UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino.

"For this reason, together with our partners, we wanted to give a concrete response by activating the Blue Dots at the border."

"In all conflicts, women and children are always dealing with specific risks. The collaboration between UNICEF, UNHCR and partner organizations is aimed at guaranteeing a systematic and integrated response though the coordination of efforts in favor of all the refugees and migrants entering", said Anna Riatti, coordinator of UNICEF's response in Italy.

 

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