Unaccompanied children in Italy total over 10,000

Better protection for foreign minors necessary.

According to latest figures presented by Italy's ministry of the interior 14,109 foreign minors have landed in Italy so far this year. Of these 10,322 were unaccompanied, or 73 per cent of the total. Most of them were aged from 14-17, although some were as young as nine. They arrived mainly from Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria. The figures relate to the period January-October this year.

The head of Save the Children's European-Italian operation Raffaella Milano has appealed to the Italian government to do more to protect these defenceless children.

A bill to improve their care was introduced in parliament in 2013 but has failed go make progress. 

According to Italy's ministry of labour figures (up to 31 August this year) of the 14,378 unaccompanied minors who arrived, 5,434 can no longer be traced. The others were being housed in special units.

Unaccompanied foreign children come under the legal protection of the courts in the same way as Italian minors. When registering on arrival in Italy unaccompanied children often add a few years to their real age to avoid court jurisdiction.

The total of unaccompanied minors is therefore thought to be higher than the official figure.

Several different agencies and ministries are responsible for the welfare of unaccompanied minors so making an overall plan for their care is difficult to coordinate. The ministry of the interior itself admits in its report that even the data concerning unaccompanied minors is collected by various agencies using different methodologies.