Unprecedented Influx of Unaccompanied Minors Puts Strain on Trieste

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by InTrieste

Trieste is currently facing an exceptional surge in unaccompanied minor migrants, witnessing 1,014 arrivals in 2023, a significant increase from the previous year’s 692. The majority of these minors originate from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Egypt, presenting a substantial challenge to the city’s reception system.

This surge, exhibiting a remarkable +322% increase, particularly gained momentum from August onwards, creating a sudden and considerable demographic shift for the city to manage.

Late November marked a concerning incident — a large-scale brawl involving young migrants, resulting in two individuals being stabbed. This event has raised concerns among residents about potential security risks associated with a substantial presence of unaccompanied minors.

Trieste’s reception system is under strain, as per latest report issued by the police, perpetually on the brink of saturation. Any minor increase in arrivals could escalate into a full-blown emergency. As of January 1, 2024, the city accommodates 310 unaccompanied foreign minors, compared to 208 at the beginning of 2023.

Throughout 2023, 364 minors entered the reception system, but a notable 375 are no longer part of it, either due to reaching adulthood or being transferred outside the municipal territory. This dynamic movement poses unique challenges for the city’s authorities.

Trieste currently offers 234 spots in regular communities for unaccompanied minors, along with emergency-activatable spots. The recent decline in the number of emergency-activated spots prompts a reassessment of the city’s emergency management approach.

As the city addresses the challenges of accommodating a fluctuating population of minors, there is a proposal to establish a network of communities. These communities would not only offer temporary shelter but also provide consistent training, beginning with language acquisition, for minors likely to stay longer.

Gratitude is extended to voluntary associations, particularly those inspired by Christian values, for their significant role amidst the surge. Organizations like the Community of Sant’Egidio, Caritas, the Community of San Martino al Campo, and non-profit entities like Ics, Linea d’Ombra, and DonK Humanitarian Medicine play a crucial role in providing support to migrants on the Balkan route. This includes meals, clothing, blankets, and, importantly, a human presence and compassionate gaze.

Volunteers are acknowledged as unsung heroes, bridging gaps and providing essential support where political and institutional responses are lacking. As Trieste manages this complex situation, the resilience of the city is evident not only in its infrastructure and administrative decisions but also in the compassion and dedication of these organizations and volunteers. They form the backbone of the city’s response, ensuring that a human touch and support system are available to those in need amidst the crisis.

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