Following several years characterised by a dramatic increase in arrivals of asylum seekers in Europe, 2014 marked an unprecedented spike in migration flows with 170,000 asylum seekers arriving to Europe (REACH, 2016). Since then, migrants and asylum seekers have continued to arrive to Europe through Italy by using the dangerous Central Mediterranean route crossing the sea from Libya. More than 145,000 migrants arrived to Italy from January to 14 October 2016, a vast majority of whom are coming from African countries rigged by conflict and/or severe environmental conditions, such as Nigeria, Eritrea, Guinea, Gambia, and Ivory Coast.
Of particular concern is the status of unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) arriving and/or stranded along these major migration routes: more than 16,000 have arrived in Italy between January and the end of August 2016. This important figure represents 15% of all sea arrivals to Italy, and has been sharply increasing compared to 2015, when UAMs only represented 7% of total arrivals on the same timeframe (UNHCR, Oct 19).
In order to gather a better understanding of the profile of children migrating to Italy, their migration patterns, vulnerability, needs and intentions, REACH is supporting UNICEF through the following activities in Southern Italy:
- Profiling of UASCs in reception centres: Two rounds of assessments will be conducted among UASCs in reception centres in Sicily and other regions in Southern Italy.
- Regular assessment of UASC reception centre: Following consultation with UNICEF and other relevant stakeholders, REACH will conduct regular assessments in reception centres on a number of pre-identified indicators including basic population profiling information and access to services. This will allow operational actors to have a clear overview of conditions in reception centres, to inform and adapt their programming and response.
- Ad hoc assessments outside of reception centres: REACH will also maintain the flexibility to conduct rapid assessments outside of the reception centres (in urban areas, informal centres etc.) throughout Italy, on priority thematic for UNICEF and other humanitarian stakeholders.