Providing support, guidance and hope for African migrants

Italy has long been one of the gateway countries for migrants entering Europe from Africa.  Un-monitored this flow presented many problems ranging from trafficking and violence, to migrants with health problems and unaccompanied minors.

In 2006 the Italian Government decided to establish a permanent presence in the reception centre of Lampedusa, a small island in the Mediterranean and a key landing point for these African migrants. Three Organizations, IOM, UNHCR and the Italian Red Cross (Save the Children joined the project in 2008) collaborated to provide the essential support and services at the centre.

It’s role was provide migrants with humanitarian assistance and general legal orientation, as well as providing access to asylum procedures and other European and Italian protection measures and mechanisms. Each agency provides specific legal assistance based on different roles and competences.

IOM specific role includes:

  • Legal counseling to migrants on consequences of irregular entry (joint information sessions to adults with UNHCR);
  • Identification of vulnerable groups such as victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors (in cooperation with Save the Children);
  • Counseling on family reunification, if feasible;
  • Referral of specific cases (victims of trafficking or other, if applicable) to competent authorities (police and judicial authority);
  • Monitoring of reception centre conditions and general migrant’s treatment;

Given the successful experience of the multiagency approach, the Praesidium project was extended to other landing points in Sicily and during the following years also to other Regions of the South of Italy.