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Restoring family links

The progress of restoring family links on Sicily.
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Dear colleagues, today we are here for an important update session on the case of a child who landed on the Sicilian coast around one year ago. He first arrive with a person who claimed to be his cousin. Then, through identification, we understood that this person was not his relative, and the child was at first recorded as unaccompanied. Then, through our investigation, we found out that during the crossing the child was with one of his parents. He was separated from his parent and landed in Sicily alone. and landed in Sicily alone. The Red Cross recorded him as an unaccompanied child because we were not aware of what had happened in previous days. We didn’t know there had been a shipwreck.
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When the situation became clear, the social workers decided to place the child into a foster family in the local community. - Yes, I was appointed as the child’s Guardian shortly after he was placed into the foster family he is currently living with. While the child was here in our area, the Italian Red Cross contacted me because apparently his other parent had come to know that he was here. The parent wanted to be reunited to the child. - What role did the Red Cross play to facilitate the reunification? Given that we were dealing with a separated child, our role was to try and understand if it was possible to restore the child’s family.
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We helped with the reunification and we provided psychological support. The lawyer helped us too. We worked according to the legislative framework, and ensuring the protection of the child. - This was an uncommon operation for the Red Cross? Yes, but we still tried to support the family as much as we could.
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We believe that’s our role at the Red Cross. But there was also another relative asking to be reunited with the child. The lawyer helped us understand if this person could also see the child. The visit took place. They spent some days together. The child’s grandmother was very happy at the work done by the Red Cross. She felt that we were helping the child and his family. The juvenile court seized the opportunity offered by this family visit to ask the child’s relative if they wanted to go on with the family reunification process. This person then did a DNA test. The DNA test was done both on his relative and on the child’s brother.
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It seems that the results were positive, both for the relative who was identified as the child’s parent, and for the other child, who was identified as his brother. Their kinship has been verified. We now have to verify if it is possible to reunify the child to his family abroad, given that the family can take care of the two children. They are together now. - At the Red Cross, we have several restoring family links cases, because migration is separating many families. Many families migrate, and on their journey, they lose contact, with their family members, or with the people they would like to be close to. People who are somewhere else in Europe. Migrants think it will be easy to reach them.
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But once they arrive, they ask for the Red Cross’ support. because they don’t know how to contact the people they haven’t seen for a long time. So I want to thank you, lawyer, for the information you have just given us. It allowed us to close the chapter on this investigation that started a year ago. Especially because, even though today it is easy to talk about reunification, it is always important to verify a biological relation between all parties. - Exactly. A person who claims to be a child’s relative might put the child in danger. The authorities must ensure the child is always safe.
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Maybe, the strength of our organisation, is its presence all over the world, because that presence allowed these people to start a tracing process. They had no idea about what happened to the child. They just knew he had left from Libya. They didn’t know anything else. - I’d like to thank you on behalf of this child I am the guardian of. I’d like to thank the Red Cross for your cooperation at a local and international level Hopefully the reunification process will be concluded successfully.

In this video you will see a meeting being held by volunteers from the Italian Red Cross on the Italian island of Sicily. The meeting is led by Santa Sicali from the Italian Red Cross. It is also attended by Agata Ingala, the legally appointed guardian of the child whose case is being discussed.

This is a meeting to capture updates from different team members on the progress of restoring family links for an unaccompanied child. You will note that for protection reasons, the identity of the child is not mentioned during the meeting. This was a small child who lost his mother due to an accident at sea. You met the foster parents of this child in Week 4 of the course. The Italian Red Cross have already been able to reunite the child with his brother from whom he was also separated at sea. You will hear how the results of a DNA test has verified the identity of their father.

Children are separated from their families for many different reasons including conflicts, disasters and migration. The ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies work together around the world to restore links between unaccompanied and separated children and their families. This work includes looking for family members, restoring contact, reuniting families and seeking to clarify what has happened to those who remain missing. You can find out more about the process by clicking on this link.

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Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

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