Dec 3, 2008, 5:40 AM
Italy has special camps and protection centres dedicated to children between the ages of 13 - 17 fleeing war, famine, disease and other socio-political crisis, and Gambian minors are predominant in the majority of these places.
Italian authorities have expressed growing concern that providing the minors with basic needs such as food, clothing and accommodation is increasingly becoming a burden.
A camp assistant said the number of minors entering Italy has continued to increase over the past three years and, as a result, the services provided to each individual are being reduced to be able to cater for the growing numbers.
“It used to be easy and very nice to work with them [minors] at the camp here, but now things are different for both of us,” he said.
Another camp assistant said they work hard to keep the minors happy, but they find it difficult.
“They are good people, but sometimes they are stubborn and difficult to control,” the lady claimed.
On the other hand, the minors bemoaned that they now find it difficult to seek for healthcare.They claimed that it takes them “a lot of time” – a week or so – before they see a medical doctor when they fall sick.
Other minors complained that camp officials gave them specific time of going out and coming in, and that they needed more time to go outside to socialise with their colleagues in other camps and protection centres.
The minors also lamented that they are not regularly receiving the €2.50 a day that they are supposed to get, and that has resulted in them not being able to call their families back home.
Many Gambian minors left the country for Italy passing through the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean seas and, in the process, sustained long-lasting injuries.
Many of them watched helplessly while their fellow brothers died on the route.