Migrants Youth Inclusion: From the EU Migration Forum to on the ground action

After representing the Eurochild network at the European Migration Forum, Daria Crimella from Fondazione L’Albero della Vita (Italy) shares her perspective on what was discussed at the Forum and what we can do to ensure young migrants are better supported.

On the 20 - 21 October, the 7th European Migration Forum on the topic of “Youth inclusion: key to successful migrant integration” took place in Brussels. Around 200 representatives from migrant organisations, NGOs, CSOs, local authorities and European think tanks generated an intense debate with EU institutions on policy approaches to foster youth inclusion.

Fondazione L’Albero della Vita was invited to represent the Eurochild network, due to its extensive work in childcare and inclusion.

For L’Albero della Vita, some important milestones from the conference are:

  • Improving access to education for young migrants. The participants called for a focus on the quality of education and on the importance of keeping investments in the public sector in order to ensure inclusiveness.
  • Reflecting on specific challenges regarding integration of young refugees. Tackling discrimination through large awareness campaigns was one of the main actions identified to support the integration of young refugees. Additionally, it is relevant to improve mentoring programmes and prevent isolation by providing child friendly information on educational opportunities and leisure time.
  • Advancing participation and engagement of young migrants. Consolidating the self-esteem and confidence of migrant youth is the starting point for an effective participation. In addition, it would be necessary to institutionalise mechanisms of youth participation to make their voice meaningful and accountable. In this perspective, quota systems have been brought up as a possible political measure.

EU funds such as Erasmus+ and the Asylum, Migration, and Integration Fund can boost inclusion methodologies. Moreover, the role of mentors and youth leaders has been favourably reported also from first hand experiences.

All the practises gathered during the EU Migration Forum can be reflected in L’Albero della Vita’s everyday work. Our organisation fights discrimination and promotes active participation of youth in their community as well as in the whole society. It empowers children and young people to be agents of change, equity defenders, and activists in order to pursue an impact, to make their voices heard. For example, young leaders from our EU project Youth Empowerment Support (YES) are managing a help desk against discrimination. L’Albero della Vita also has in place a multidimensional programme to prevent social and economic exclusion. The national programme “Passing the Threshold” addresses the specific needs of vulnerable families. Among the beneficiaries, there are many migrants’ families especially in Genoa, Milan and Perugia. The programme reinforces the families’ network through a tailor-made programme, which often includes orienteering in the job market for adults, and education support to avoid school dropouts and to reinforce soft skills for children and adolescents.

Photo courtesy of Fondazione L'Albero della Vita

An aspect that surprisingly has not been considered during the Forum and on which L’Albero della Vita has been working extensively, is foster care and alternative for unaccompanied children. In our experience, quality care is the basis for the well-being and a smooth inclusion in society. In this perspective, we have been reinforcing capacity to expand foster care services at systemic level thanks to EU-funded projects such as FORUM and EPIC.

As an NGO, and as services providers, we look forward to adopt new methodologies to improve the quality of our action. A special focus on young leaders will be given in our programmes and we are about to launch with Eurochild a pilot project, called Democratic Activation of Youth (DAY). This EU-funded project will establish youth participation mechanisms in Naples, and it will focus on include migrant youth in the process. Stay tuned!

For more information on the work of L’Albero della Vita, visit their website.

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