A mentoring visit of Leeds and Stockholm to Milan took place from 26 to 29 June in the framework of the Solidarity Cities Initiative. EUROCITIES responded quickly in May to the need of Milan of making progress on the area of reception of unaccompanied minors as well as education for children of families with migrant background.

According to UNHCR, in 2016 as many as 25,846 unaccompanied minors arrived in Italy. From January 1st to May 8th 2017, the ISMU Foundation registered 45,000 migrants reached the Italian coasts through the Mediterranean Sea.  Among them, more than 5,500 UAMs which represented an increase of one fifth compared to the same period of 2016. According to UNHCR data, the top nationalities recorded in the first three months of 2017 were Guinea (579 minors), Gambia (565) and Bangladesh (489). 

The city of Milan received 6,016 UAMs from 2013 to February 2017, half of which in the last 12 months. The places available in the reception facilities for minors are not sufficient. Moreover, several minors disappear after being allocated in housing or reception centres. The lack of operational protocols to coordinate the many actors involved in the reception of UAMs was another reported challenge. Also, there was a need of an educational system that boosts an intercultural approach and responds to the particular needs of foreign families increasing their participation to school activities.

The officers of the city of Milan welcomed a delegation of the two visiting cities, the facilitator Ceri Hutton and EUROCITIES. The delegation was guided through several site visits and interviews with the local stakeholders working on the field, including: Police, social workers, NGOs, educators and schools. As a result of the visit, two action plans were drafted with the help of the visiting delegation and were endorsed by the Directors of the municipality services for Social Affairs and Education.

A first action plan on the reception and orientation for newly arrived unaccompanied minors. The action plan included first of all the creation of a resource centre for the emergency reception of minors involving a network of providers including competent authorities, social workers, medical services and NGOs. A further action explored was the expansion of the reception centres for minors to include a limited number of places for emergency accommodation. A second action plan listed a number of actions to increase the multi-cultural engagement in educational settings engaging children with migrant background, such as: targeted nursery and preschool activities, training on multicultural methods for educators, provision of classes for parents, outreach activities in different languages.

The action plans received a first endorsement from city officials on the last day and will be implemented and followed up during 2017. Further activities in coordination with EUROCITIES are under discussion to help this process of change to take effective action at local level facing the migrant and refugee crisis.

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