Supporting the Creation of a Night-Time Emergency Centre for Foreign Children in Transit in Rome, Italy

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: December 2011 - Project end date: December 2012
Project number: 2011-56
Beneficiary: INTERSOS

 [2013-029 | 2014-018 | 2015-008 | 2015-050]

This project's aim is to provide a safe and healthy assistance to Afghan children transiting to Rome. This place will be a Center in Rome managed by Intersos, that has been restored and that now need to be completed with furnitures and other supplies.
After having been exploited and abused in every country they have crossed, Afghan children transiting to Rome (the "sorting hub" for further European destinations) have no points of reference other than the traffickers specified to them. Platform 15 of the Ostiense Railways Station of Rome has always been their overnight stay, in the heat and cold, promiscuously with no protection whatsoever. Even if in the last few months, tents have been erected to provide greater shelter, the deterioration of this risk situation for children continues to be very serious.
In many years, no one has managed to provide them with a safe shelter. They are children in transit. If hundreds come and go in a year, every day this is no more than 20-25 people. Some stay in Rome for three days, some stay for twenty. After which, the few who have been unable to head elsewhere ask to remain in Italy and join the procedure for the protection of children by the public Administration. Up until then, however, they remain "invisible" and in the hands of those who can guarantee them a minimal chance of survival and a hope to continue their travels to central-northern Europe, profiting by this weakness situation.
Twenty Afghan children to be welcomed and protected during the nights spent in Rome would not appear to be an impossible task and the Centre that Intersos will be opening in the first fortnight of October intends precisely to provide a response to this emergency, guaranteeing a protected overnight stay in a healthy environment for up to 24 children per night

It is only seeking to create a system, coordinating and making efforts and competences complementary, that one can seriously and effectively deal with social problems such as that considered. More specifically, the Centre will connect with organisations that already deal with children, such as Save the Children Italy, which has broad skills in the matter and "Civico Zero", the daytime welcome Centre for foreign children. It is a complementary relationship in which Intersos will meet a need that is not yet covered: the overnight stay and protection of Afghan children. It will use the other public and private services available on the territory for all other needs (health, food, legal, guidance and support towards final destination etc.).
The Centre will also be rooted - through the relationship with the 2nd city council of Rome and the associations and social and economic contexts existing there - with the city territory, in order to ensure a firm acceptance and support that may guarantee the continuation and survival of the initiative over the years to come.

Restoration works and works to adapt the rooms of the Centre situated at 28 Via Aniene were carried out from June to September 2011. The Enel Cuore Foundation funded them. Intersos is now buying supplies of all items needed for the furnishing and night-time hospitality (beds, cupboards, tables, chairs, washing machines and tumble driers, etc.). The official opening and start-up of activities will take place during the first fortnight of October 2011. The structure welcomes 24 children per night. As these are short stays, annual hospitality is expected to be provided to 800-1000 children.
The opening hours will be from 9.00 pm during the cold months and from 10.00 pm in the warmer months until 8.00 am, 365 days a year.

Main services offered:
- beds (24)
- showers (4)
- toilets (3)
- washing machines (2)/spin-driers (2)
- change of bed clothes and towels
- kitchen for preparing breakfast
- computers with internet connection (3)
- communal lounge
- books and games
- prayer/meeting room

As already explained, other daytime services are provided by Civico Zero and other social services of the city.
The structure is equipped with comfortable, pleasant environments with the distribution of spaces guaranteeing both collective life and the independency and privacy of its users.
The structure meets the requirements imposed by current construction, hygiene-health, fire prevention, plant safety and accident prevention and safety at work legislation.
All spaces are for the exclusive use of guests and the team of operators (one educator and one cultural mediator each night). The latter are reserved an office/welcome room and a night-time surveillance room.

Professional figures
The team starts consisting of five professional figures:
- Coordinator: coordinates and is responsible both for the structure and the service provided
- Professional educator (2 people): concretely implements the development of welcome activities, professionally and in compliance with principles and procedures; one of the two will act as team leader
- Cultural mediator (2 people): this is the key connection between the children welcomed and the other professional figures in the Centre.
The team will meet once a week and whenever it should be necessary. Guests are met individually and minutes of the meeting are stated on the individual file. At the end of their shift, each operator notes any observations on dynamics between guests in their computer "diary"; monthly reports will not be spontaneous and will avoid dysfunctional dynamics, ensuring that shared lines of intervention can be taken.

Documentation
The structure has readily updated documentation with a related register of guests. There is also an archive monitoring data and documents for work.

Ethics
The structure team complies with the contents of the Conventions of Rights of Children and Adolescents and adheres to the principles described on the Intersos charter of values and the Save the Children policy for the protection of children and adolescents, with the related operating procedures.

Admission
Children are welcomed to the Centre on the basis of signalling by the Civico Zero service or by other suitable, reliable structures (private and public) intervening during the day.
Insertion method:
- admission to the structure requires a formal request to this end by the child;
- the request is accepted as long as criteria are met (in particular the fact of being a minor, under 18 years) and minimum compatibility conditions with the other group guests;
- admission involves an interview with the service reference in the presence of the mediator and
- entails acceptance of the structure regulation.

Discharge
Discharge shall take place in collaboration with the service reference educator.
Reasons for which a guest is discharged:
- he has stayed for the maximum number of days permitted (to be defined by agreement with the police Authorities, given the non- formal identification of the children);
- request made by the child where the need not to stay is clear;
- non-compliance with the internal structure regulations;
- clear signs of constituting a danger to himself and/or the other guests;
- after more than 15 days, unless the severity or unique circumstances should require authorisation to continue.
After which: either the child has chosen to resume his journey towards the established destination or to stay in Italy and is therefore entrusted to the City's social services.

The project results can be summarised as follows:
- after six years of some sporadic interventions (particularly in winter), with no certain, definitive solution, the Centre provides an answer to the night-time emergency of the Afghan children, offering them a healthy, protected place as an alternative to the Ostiense Station;
- every night, 24 underage children will be welcomed for one or more nights (up to thirty); over the year, this amounts to 800-1000 children to which, in addition to a humane welcome, services will be supplied as necessary for the night, personal hygiene, washing of clothes, internet connection and -when necessary- relations with the family, thanks to the Intersos presence in Afghanistan;
- the Centre will also offer them a network of public and private services supplied by other organisations and institutions coordinated with Intersos;
- this network, created over the last few months, is being developed and consolidated in Rome, involving the various organisations which, directly or indirectly, are involved in the problems of the Afghan minors in transit;
- another important result will be the progressive rooting of the Centre in the territorial reality of the 2nd City Council of Rome.

 Intersos intervenes in international humanitarian crises caused by wars or natural disasters, in various sectors. In particular: food and non-food items distributions, water supply, protection of internal displaced and refugees - with a particular focus on the most vulnerable -, camps and shelters, education and vocational training, mine risk education, support to returnees. In Afghanistan, amongst other activities, it protects unaccompanied Afghan children who have been expelled from Iran (the children who have not managed to get through Turkey and head to Greece and Italy), with a view to identifying them, guiding them towards the relevant national and international institutions, supporting their return to their families and removing them from traffickers and those who seek to exploit them. This project received a grant from the NPF, in line with these activities and seeks to provide a response to the emergency of Afghan children in transit to Rome for further European countries.

This project received the fourth grant for 2016.

 

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