The image is one of those that are imprinted in the memory: the adolescent migrant at the bottom of the sea proudly showing his report card full of good grades. The cartoonist Makkox had thus portrayed the young Malian who died together with hundreds of other people in the shipwreck of April 2015 in the Strait of Sicily. The pathologist in charge of the autopsy found a school report sewn in his pocket. “With what expectations this young Malian teenager had so carefully hidden a document so precious for his future, which showed his efforts, his skills in studying, and which he thought would open for him who knows what doors of an Italian or European school , now reduced to a few discolored pages soaked in rotten water? “asked Cristina Cattaneo. On 12 August a memorandum of understanding was signed to launch the “Pagella in your pocket” project, promoted by the humanitarian organization Intersos with UNCHR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which was created to create a regular and safe entry channel to allow fleeing minors to be able to enter Europe regularly with a study visa rather than putting themselves in the hands of traffickers and risking dying in the Mediterranean.
A student visa for refugee children
During the month of September, the first five unaccompanied minors will arrive in Italy, being able to count, as well as the other thirty who will soon follow them, on an entry visa for study reasons to enter our country. These are refugee children in Niger, where Intersos manages the educational activities of the UNHCR camps. They are between 16 and 17 years old, they fled from Darfur, Sudan, during the war and many of them are orphans or have completely lost contact with their parents. Before arriving in Niger, they passed through Libya, locked up in detention centers or exploited to work. Many have suffered mistreatment and violence. “We have discovered that these minors, despite being among the most vulnerable groups, alone and without their parents, are excluded from the humanitarian corridors and we have proposed to the Foreign and Interior Ministries to overcome this paradox using a tool that is already present by many years in the Italian legislation but which until now had not been used to allow refugee children to enter safely “, says a Today Elena Rozzi, Intersos project manager.
The minors will be hosted in foster families and will go to school, accompanied in this path of study and social inclusion by those who welcomed them, supported by specific professional figures. The students will obtain the middle school certificate and then they will be able to choose whether to continue their path in upper secondary school or in vocational training. The project guarantees a one-year scholarship for each minor, to cover subsistence costs (food, expenses for school books, transport), which is given directly to the foster families, who will also receive educational support together with legal and psychological advice where needed. “An educator will help the families to manage the relationship with the welcomed child, while a cultural mediator will act as a bridge between them and the child. Families are not left alone, they can count on a support intervention to overcome all the difficulties that may be possible. to meet in the daily relationship and in the path of inclusion of these young people, who have very traumatic disorders behind them and carry with them a very great load of suffering. It is essential that both they and their families are supported, thanks also to the very close collaboration with the services of the bodies involved. The first municipality we involved was that of Turin, with which an excellent collaboration was developed in the identification and training of families. It has decades of experience in the fostering of unaccompanied minors and operators they are really well prepared The first 15 minors will be welcomed in Turin and then the others in other municipalities that we are c oinvolving in these days “, explains Rozzi.
A double path, training and social inclusion
Scoreboard in your pocket “is expressly dedicated to unaccompanied minors and is focused on the right to study, together with hosting in the family rather than in structures or centers. Staying with the family is always preferable to other solutions and this applies to any minor, Italian or In this way we also enhance the availability of many citizens who wanted to get involved to give these young people a better future “, says the project manager. “The children were selected primarily on the basis of motivation to study. Intersos manages activities such as language and training courses in the UNHCR refugee camps in Niger and therefore, by evaluating the participation of the children in these courses, we were also able to evaluate their motivation to study, through a series of interviews with them – Rozzi reconstructs – We have prepared them for what they will find here, what to expect with respect to the welcome from the families, what their path of inclusion in Italy will be like. quarantine in a reception center, where they will live with a cultural mediator who will help them orient themselves in this new world for them, they will begin to study Italian and will meet both the social service workers and the foster families. they will start going to school “.
What will happen next? “From a legal point of view, since these are unaccompanied minors from a country at war, it is very likely that they decide, together with their guardian here in Italy appointed by the juvenile court, to apply for asylum in order to obtain a title of permanent residence to stay in Italy. They have already been recognized as refugees in Niger, they have been screened by the local authorities. From the educational point of view, after the middle school certificate they will be able to decide whether to continue with upper secondary school or in vocational training until graduation of a qualification or school diploma. The scholarship guaranteed by our project lasts twelve months and the agreement with the municipalities is that at the end of that period the boy will be included in the normal projects for the inclusion of unaccompanied minors that each municipality The first year the cost of the reception is borne by Intersos, then the reception is taken over by the competent municipality. 18 years, you can ask the juvenile court to extend the custody with an institution called administrative continuation up to a maximum of 21 years, with the guarantee of a welcome and inclusion pathway to achieve a good level of autonomy . If foster care is working well and if everyone agrees to continue, the child can stay in the family up to the age of 21, which is the deadline for covering the contribution for foster care. “
The scholarships are financed thanks to the CEI “Free to leave, free to stay” fund, while the project as a whole is financed by the Migrantes Foundation, Acli and the Compagnia di San Paolo. “Scoreboard in your pocket” is a pilot project, based on a close collaboration between civil society, organizations and institutions. “We hope that over time it will become a consolidated experience, both in involving other minors arriving from Niger and in involving children from other countries where there are high numbers of unaccompanied refugee minors who have no prospects for integration: we are talking about countries a lot poor, at war, with phenomena of terrorism, in which children cannot find conditions for a positive integration and full realization of their rights “, concludes Elena Rozzi.