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First response (Part 2)

How children at border crossings should be treated
We are in the Red Cross’s operations room. From here, in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Health, we have been monitoring the migratory flows, since 2016. Over the past few days, we have been monitoring the arrival of the Sea-Watch, and the evolution of the on-board operations. We are in a small port, called porticciolo Stentinello. Porto Rifugio. We are in Syracuse’s industrial area. We are witnessing something an extraordinary event.
The rescue ship Sea-Watch, with 47 migrants on board, is blocked off the coast. The crew is waiting for the authorisation to enter the port and disembark the passengers. For many days Syracuse’s civil society, and people from everywhere, have pressured and protested against the Government. It seems that they have just been authorised to disembark the passengers. There are 47 people on board, including 15 unaccompanied children.
When they get off the ship, the police officers, the Red Cross, and the civil protection authorities collect their data. The data is then sent to the Prefecture and to the social services. The social services will then get to work to find the closest reception centre for the children. The first passengers who got off the ship were the unaccompanied children. There were 15 of them. We immediately proceeded with a medical checkup. Then, they were transferred to the Prefectures and the immigration offices for identification. Finally, they were moved to the reception centres in Catania. When they arrive, everything is communicated to the social services and to the Juvenile Court. This in turn should immediately appoint a guardian. They have a list.
We obviously take particular care of the unaccompanied children. They need to be welcomed and supported while they wait to be transferred from the disembarkation port to the reception centres, before being put in the custody of the social workers. It’s there (at disembarkation) that our young volunteers, especially, but everybody, set up activities and games set up activities and games so that the children can play before being transferred. We want the children to live a playful moment. We want to see them smile. They are the first victims of the tragedy of their crossing, rescue and landing. We feel it is our duty to be here and protest. We want to welcome these people.
We are willing to take our share of responsibility and welcome these people. [tribal chants]

In this video we hear from Luigi Corsaro, President of the Italian Red Cross in Sicily. Luigi is in the operations room of the Red Cross in Syracuse. He describes the response of the Red Cross when a boat carrying refugees or migrants enters Italian waters off the coast of Sicily. In particular, he is describing an event that took place during January 2019 involving an NGO vessel called Sea Watch that was carrying people rescued at sea. Luigi highlights the importance of taking particular care of unaccompanied and separated children and always responding to them in a caring, reassuring, and child friendly manner. He speaks about the welcoming attitude of the Red Cross volunteers and how they take care of the children while they are waiting to receive other services.

During the development of this course, in January 2019, the CELCIS team was filming in Sicily, at the same time that Sea Watch was waiting to enter a port. In this video you will also hear from Rita Gentile, who is the Vice-President of the NGO Accoglierete. Rita was also waiting on the beach for Sea Watch to arrive. Accoglierete is an organisation that was created in 2013 to support unaccompanied and separated children arriving on the island of Sicily. A principal activity of the organisation is to provide Guardians for unaccompanied children. You will be able to hear more about this work in Week 5 of the course.

In this video, Rita explains how for many days members of local civil society organisations have been waiting on the beach. They were campaigning so that Sea Watch would be allowed to come into the port and let the 47 passengers, including 15 unaccompanied and separated children, to disembark.

By clicking on the links to both the Italian Red Cross in Sicily and Accoglierete, you will be able to learn more about the work they do.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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