On 20 June, the Italian union confederations CGIL, CISL and UIL joined forces to draw attention to the worrying situation of unaccompanied minors in Italy and Europe. Investments in quality public services, in particular through adequate training of professionals, are crucial to offer these children the assistance they need.

The three unions challenged the Italian and European Union authorities in an open letter, calling for the respect of human rights standards for all, including refugees and in particular, unaccompanied minors:

“About 50,000 people landed on our shores this year, more than 7,000 are unaccompanied minors. This is twice the 2015 figure, according to UNICEF. These children and adolescents have faced appalling risks to get to Europe, crossing the Sahara desert, between deprivation and violence. They were then loaded onto boats and inflatable rafts and abandoned to their fate by criminal traffickers. Many of them haven’t made it and disappeared in the Mediterranean - together with 2,800 migrants who drowned in the first five months of 2016; others face further difficulties in reception centers, deprived of their parents, with the only prospect of an uncertain future.

The Italian unions want to dedicate World Refugee Day to them, asking Italy and Europe to establish humanitarian corridors for these young refugees, to create for them bridges rather than walls, offering them once arrived in Europe, a concrete path to be accepted and protected, healing the horrors that these children had to suffer, starting with the loss of their families.

Above all, we must prevent these minors from disappearing, as sadly happened in the past to about 10,000 of them, because the disappearance of a child possibly means human trafficking, modern slavery, organ trafficking and violence of any kind.

We also want to dedicate this day to the 20 children who died of thirst this week in Assamaka, in the desert of Niger. They dreamed of a new future and have instead suffered the worst death. Because this has to stop, Europe must abandon its logic of selfishness and hypocrisy and open doors to those fleeing war, poverty and despair. CGIL, CISL, UIL ask the Italian government and the EU to go beyond a solely emergency response and express deep concern about a cultural and ethical slide in the way unaccompanied minors are assisted, exposing them to segregation and marginalization.”