MADRID, Dec. 5 (EUROPE PRESS) –
Almost all minor migrants who have arrived in Italy without the company of any adult, more than 6,100 migrants, live in reception centers, often isolated and with hardly any opportunities, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ), which has requested a reception solution for all of them.
Amadou (fictitious name), a 17-year-old Congolese, slept for a week at the central station in Rome until an NGO identified him and found him a house with five other young people in equally vulnerable situations.
“I was terrified when I had to sleep at the station. I didn't know where to go for help, I didn't know if I could eat or how to survive,” he recalls, speaking of the stage he has already left behind. “My life changed when I could go to that apartment. I learned to take care of myself. Now I go to school and I'm studying to be a cook,” he explains.
UNICEF says that 94 percent of the separated and unaccompanied refugee and migrant children in Italy, specifically 6,172 children under 18, live in reception centers, which is why the organization has called for action.
UNICEF regional director for Europe and Central Asia, Afshan Khan, has lamented that “too many children are still excluded” from accommodation solutions such as Amadou. “More investments are needed to expand these services and reach all refugee and migrant children alone in the country,” he said.
In this regard, Khan has pointed out that “community housing promotes social inclusion, helps young people to access education and training opportunities, and is a more profitable solution than reception centers.”
The organizations estimate that, until October, some 5,000 young people and refugees had abandoned this reception system, so there is no information available on them. The majority leave because of bureaucratic delays, lack of information about their legal rights or because they meet with relatives, according to UNICEF.
It is also common for them to leave the center due to doubts about their status once they turn 18. Between 2014 and 2018, more than 70,000 unaccompanied children arrived by sea, of which 60,000 have reached the age of majority and, therefore, have been left out of the protection services contemplated in Italy for children.