More than 25,000 unaccompanied minors have reached Italy in 2016. With more than 1 million registered children without Italian citizenship and 815,000 children aged more than 5 enrolled in Italian schools, the presence of foreign-born children in Italy is a consolidated demographic trend. However, particular attention should be paid to the increasing number of minors who live in Italy and have no parents and are therefore particularly vulnerable. In 2016 more than 25,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the Mediterranean and reached Italy – twice as many as in 2015, a critical year for the EU due to the constant flow of asylum-seekers fleeing from Middle-East and Africa.
Unaccompanied minors have accounted for 14.2% of all maritime arrivals in 2016 (181,000 including men, women and children), compared to 8% in 2015 and 7.7% in 2014. In contrast, the number of accompanied minors has decreased from 13,000 (2014) to 2,400 (2016).
In 2016, 92% of migrant children who reached Italy were unaccompanied and came primarily from African countries (Eritrea, Gambia and Nigeria, Egypt). Many do not plan to stay and regard Italy as a transit country to other European countries. Few are those applying for international protection, while many are those who try to escape from the reception facilities across the country. According to the latest data, by 30/11 more than 6,500 minors were missing from official reception facilities. They were primarily Egyptians, Eritreans, Somalis and Afghans who planned to reach friends or family networks in Northern Europe.
The ISMU Foundation is committed to monitoring the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors, considering the great relevance it has acquired over the past few years. This is why the Foundation has included it into the strategic guidelines of the annual work-plan in the form of monitoring and analysis.