On 11 and 12 July 2017, young migrants and refugee U-Reporters in Italy met the Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents of Palermo, Sicily, to be heard on issues that matter to them.
The influx of migrants and refugees continues unabated along the central Mediterranean route. This year nearly 85,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Italy. Of these, almost 10,000 are children and the vast majority (94 percent) are unaccompanied (source: UNHCR). By end May 2017, the reception system hosted more than 16,000 Unaccompanied and Separated Children, 6.9% girls and 84% from the age group 16-18 years.
In April, 2017 U-Report On The Move was launched in Palermo municipality, Sicily as part of as part of the ONE UNICEF Response support to the protection, care, development and social inclusion of migrant and refugee children in Italy. Since last year, UNICEF has been responding to the migrant and refugee crisis in Italy across a range of activities, from supporting coast guard search and rescue operations to ensuring minimum standards in reception centres, and more recently creating a pool of Guardians and foster families to arrange alternative care for children.
Playing a small but important role in the overall response is U-Report On The Move, now counting 150 U-Reporters, representing more than 20 per cent of all Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Palermo. The platform enables them to speak out and be heard on matters of concern to them as they arrive in reception centres.
U-Report On The Move is unique in its genre, giving Unaccompanied and Separated Children a chance to think and see their lives differently, to connect with their peers in other reception centres, and to access information on Palermo’s social and recreational life.
In its efforts to address the first set of actionable responses generated from U-Report polls, a Participatory Workshop took place on 11 and 12 July in Palermo with support from UNICEF and its partner Intersos. Here young migrants and refugees met with Pasquale D’Andrea, the Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents, to discuss their needs, dreams and future aspirations. U-Reporters identified three key priorities requiring immediate action: the right to play, the right to be heard, and the right to education and vocational training. The workshop was also an opportunity for Unaccompanied and Separated Children to reflect upon their responsibilities and the skills required to reach their goals: from communication, self-esteem and teamwork to problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.
U-Reporters and other Unaccompanied and Separated Children received a positive response from the Ombudsman of Palermo, Pasquale D’Andrea explaining they shared the responsibility: “We are working to support you in reaching your goals. You represent a wealth for us, you can and must help us to improve your lives and those of others here in Palermo, but it is your right to have dreams but you must double your efforts. Our minds must meet, we need to understand each other and remember that the primary responsibility for reaching our goals is ours, every day, with the choices we make and with our actions.”
The meeting was timely, coinciding with part of the ONE UNICEF Response about to kick start vocational training and apprenticeship activities as part of the package of social inclusion activities for Unaccompanied and Separated Children. U-Report is slowly but surely becoming a key tool for Unaccompanied and Separated Children to share their views about what this means to them in their new home country.
UNICEF will continue to roll out the U-Report project in Sicily, Calabria and other regions in partnership with Intersos and Medecins du Monde and supported by the UNICEF Global Innovation Centre.
For more info visit: http://www.onthemove.ureport.in/