in Europe

"The suffering of foreign minors must last the least possible amount of time"


July 8, 2013, Lampedusa, Italy:“Life is a choice or a chance?” Asks Mohamed, 17 years old, having arrived in Lampedusa from Somalia through Lybia and its violence. He is following a dream of freedom: from war, from poverty, from abuse. Monday he participated in the visit of the Pope. For over 20 days he – along with many of his peers – has been in the CPSA (Centro di Primo Soccorso e Accoglienza, Center for First Aid and Reception). The long time spent there makes them feel in limbo in which emotions, often deeply ambivalent ones resurface without the chance to continue their planned trip.
“The foreign minors that participated in the Pope’s visit were particularly touched by the event,” declares Lilian Pizzi, Terre des Hommes psychologist and head of the project Faro III (Lighthouse III). “The words of the Pope were a chance to reflect on the complexity of the political and economic situation, but also the individual reasons for which young people leave their countries: it is a brave decision, often, but not always shared by family members, that frequently manifests itself as an uncertain challenge and a contemporary rite of passage.”
“A stay in Lampedusa, then, becomes the place of a balance and also of a comparison, very often painful, between the imagined West that fueled the choice to migrate and that which then is actually encountered.” Being contained for a long time inside the CPSA, despite the attention they receive from institutions and staff, is a source of questions for them, even more so when they realize that as minors they are bearers of inalienable rights. It is also for this reason these children and youth should be transferred to host communities as soon as possible, possibly within 48 hours, as required by Italian law.
“This visit has political as well as symbolic value, which we invite both the Italian and European authorities to assume, along with all of its implications.” The Supreme Pontiff wished to testify, in this outpost of human suffering, the need for the universal rights of migrants and minors in particular, to be respected. Terre des hommes stands strongly by Pope Francis on the fact that all of this should happen every day, for those who are still forced to risk their lives in search of a more human destiny, “_ declares Raffaele K. Salinari, president of Terre des Hommes International Federation.
Terre des Hommes Italy has been present in Lampedusa since the middle of June 2013 with the Project Faro III for psychological and psychosocial assistance especially for the benefit of unaccompanied foreign minors and of families with children, those same children for which Pope Francis has dedicated attention, tenderness and a special listening ear.
“It is truly from listening to children, youth, and their mothers that our intervention gets its life, an intervention that offers delicate psychological and psychosocial support to migrants during this phase of initial reception in the CSPA of Contrada Imbriacola” says Federica Giannotta, Advocacy Manager for the Foundation.
The new intervention, that signals the third phase of the Faro project started two years ago during the North African Emergency, and is part of the Terre des Hommes’ International Federation Destination Unknown campaign for the protection of migrant children (children on the move) in the world escaping from war, poverty, and violence, that according to the most recent data number almost 21 Million (source: UNHCR).
In 2011 Tdh Italy had started a project for legal assistance to immigrant minors in Lampedusa (Faro I), which was followed in 2012 by a cycle of legal and social training meetings for community staff (Faro II) in seven Italian cities. Faro III is privately financed by the Prosolidar Foundation, which follows and supports the action of Tdh Italy in this delicate area. The intervention, authorized by the Ministry of Interior will last until the end o 2013.
For 50 years Terre des Hommes has been at the frontlines of protecting children around the world from all from violence, abuse, and exploitation and to guarantee to every child school, informal education, medical care, and food. Currently, Terre des Hommes is present in 72 countries with over 1,200 projects for children. Italy’s Terre des Hommes Foundation is part of the Terre des Hommes International Federation, works in conjunction with ECHO and is accredited by the European Union, the United Nations, USAID, and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For more information:
Terre des hommes in Italy.
Rossella Panuzzo
Ufficio Stampa Terre des Hommes
02 28970418 – 340 3104927