Radio Erena: 09 July 2015
Report by Amanuel Ghirmai Bahta
Over 300 unaccompanied under-age Eritrean immigrants have reportedly been loitering around the streets of many Italian cities.
The children, who are believed to be between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age, were settled at the refugee camps in Sicily following their arrival at the coast of Italy. They boarded on the fishing boats in route to Italy and other European countries via Mediterranean Sea without a parent or guardian.
The children are believed to have fled from the Sicilian camps and are settling in the streets of Palermo, Catania and Messina till they find a way to cross over to northern Europe, noted a NGO employee from the area.
According to eyewitness reports from the cities, the kids have been helped by brokers to flee the refugee camps and get exposed to harsh conditions – at times living at poorly ventilated make-shift shelters, in the streets as they wait for their parents or relatives to wire them money to pay the brokers. As a result of this, some of the kids are seen to suffer from depression and are tempted to commit suicide, states Mr. Abraha Towelde (a.k.a. Drito) – a volunteer who helps the immigrants.
Towelde told Radio Erena that he has never seen a flow of immigrants of such magnitude in his 40 years in Catania, especially, such outrageous number of unaccompanied kids. He said he has been helping the kids with food and clothing and also trying to find organizations in Catania that can provide them with medical treatment before they travel to Rome and Milan.
Towelde stressed out that the kids have been hiking up their real age during registration in order to find a job and that they do not receive the benefit they deserve as under age immigrants.
Similarly, Amr Adem – an Eritrean Human Rights activist in Rome was able to find hundreds of unaccompanied under-age Eritreans, who have been living in various train and bus stations in Rome, temporary shelters, clothing and food provided by the administration of the city of Rome in cooperation with the Red Cross and other non-profit organizations.
One of the shelters – made of tents, is located in the center of Rome called Tiburtina erected by the Red Cross while the other center is built in Via Cupa.
Several Eritrean immigrant kids are seen to be loitering in the streets of Milan and some are seen to be living off of begging. Recently, a temporary shelter is reported to be built where the kids could get drinking water and food from, confirmed a young volunteer Eritrean – Tsigehana, who works closely with non-profit organizations that are helping the kids.
Most of the kids plan to go to northern Europe, especially, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway and other neighboring countries and that they are forced to deal with traffickers and their brokers, who immensely exploit them.