REACH,UNICEF, United Nations Children's Fund
REACH, in the framework of a partnership with UNICEF, conducted an assessment on the profiles and experiences of children who arrived in Italy and Greece in 2016 and 2017, why they left home, the risks children encountered on their journey and their life once in Europe. Analysis is based on primary and secondary data collection carried out between December 2016 and May 2017 in Italy and Greece. As the vast majority of children arriving in Italy are unaccompanied or separated, the focus of this study in Italy was determined accordingly; in Greece, most children arrive in the country accompanied, which is why accompanied, unaccompanied and separated children were interviewed as part of the study. In Italy, a total of 720 unaccompanied and separated children were interviewed in 72 reception facilities in Sicily and outside reception facilities in the key transit sites of Rome, Milan, Ventimiglia and Como; in Greece, a consolidated secondary data analysis was carried out, supplemented by primary data collection, including Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with 40 parents and 30 service providers, as well as 17 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with a total of 130 children, of whom 70 were unaccompanied or separated.
The assessment found that refugee and migrant children in Italy and Greece come from conflict-ridden countries and areas with poverty; all leave behind a situation where they feel they have no access to their basic rights as a child and do not see any prospects for themselves in the foreseeable future. For many children who have arrived in Italy or Greece, the journey is not yet over, as they aim to join family elsewhere. Others would like to stay in Italy or Greece to continue their education and build a life in the country.
Once in Europe, all children faced challenges when attempting to realise their objectives through legal pathways and the national child reception system in place. Indeed, for many children, a difficult part of their journey is yet to start once in Italy or Greece. Finally in Europe, too often, children are vulnerable to finding themselves in challenging situations, often exposed to risks of abuse and exploitation.