Emanuela Del Re, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was a keynote speaker at a virtual conference of the House of Lords in the British Parliament, dealing with voluntary relocation of child and other vulnerable refugees.
The Vice Minister provided an overview of the complementary processes for safe, legal migration that Italy has set up for refugees and migrants who need international protection. Currently Italy is running three different programmes: (1) The EU resettlement programme, (2) Humanitarian Corridors, (3) Humanitarian evacuations from Libya. Together, these have allowed legal entry into Italy for over 6,100 refugees and vulnerable migrants, said Vice Minister Del Re.
According to UNICEF statistics, last year over 25,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Italy. “We are looking for solutions at a European level, because this is a sad phenomenon with a European dimension. The number of refugee children coming to Europe from Mediterranean Countries by sea is at its highest level since the Second World War,” she continued. “The scenario is frightening: these children are fleeing wars and disasters. The destination of these risky voyages is Italy’s South coast, where the phenomenon has reached problematic dimensions. Many children earn the means for the voyage by working illegally or by submitting to sexual abuse. These unaccompanied children find it very difficult to build a new life for themselves when they reach Italy or Europe, and new aid mechanisms need to be created for their Countries of Origin, in order to avoid this type of emigration. These mechanisms should be based on the principle of sharing the burden within the European Union, and should be negotiated on a humanitarian, open basis. Likewise, it is important to seek African Countries’ cooperation, to avoid the departure of vessels from the African coast, heading for Italy and Greece. This must be done by providing alternative options to those wishing to build a future for themselves, so that they can do so in their social context, without undertaking highly dangerous trips, using illegal migratory means, often doomed to fail”.
“We need to come up with modern responses to modern challenges, and for this reason I believe that our approach must involve Europe in the widest sense, as a whole, in order to be really effective. I hope that the United Kingdom will join Italy and consider implementing humanitarian corridors based on the Italian model, with an active contribution by civil society organisations,” concluded the Vice Minister.