After a decade during which more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors have arrived in Italy, the reception system for vulnerable young migrants is still inadequate, says Save the Children.
Over the past ten years, 103,842 unaccompanied minors (UAMs) have arrived in Italy, mostly adolescents and pre-adolescents but also young children, Save the Children reported this week.
Despite the fact that UAMs have become an established presence in the country, the charity said there are still not enough arrival centers and emergency shelters to accommodate them. In addition, nearly all UAMs who arrived in Italy remain in Sicily or Calabria in the south, instead of being distributed throughout the country, Save the Children said.
According to the organization, in 2021, Italy registered 11,569 asylum requests by minors, of whom 3,257 were unaccompanied. In a report published on February 22 titled 'Hidden in Plain Sight -- Southern Frontier', Save the Children traces various routes taken by minors after their arrival in Italy, and also looks at the arrival conditions.
The report shares stories of the process of integration of minors who arrive in Italy, as well as cases of those who leave to travel to a destination in another European country, exposing themselves to new risks.
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Girls face higher risks
Girls face particular dangers, according to the report. In their case "there is the risk that their departure is forced and tied to the sexual exploitation ring." In 2022, the number of unaccompanied migrant girls who arrived at accommodation centers in Italy stood at 2,988.
Raffaella Milano, director of the Italy-Europe programs for Save the Children, said it was clear from the report that a national reception and shelter system was needed for UAMs in Italy, "(o)ne able to ensure that minors who arrive without their parents in our country have the chance to find shelter and protection quickly."
"For this reason it is necessary to create at least one emergency reception center in each region, as part of a coordinated network at the national level, with common qualitative and managerial standards and with the capability of hosting 2,000 places," Milano added.