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Executive Summary for March 30th

We review the latest issues related to refugees, including Italy’s new law on lone migrant children, Mediterranean shipwreck survivors found and new data on displacement in Somalia amid a severe drought.

Published on March 30, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Italy Passes ‘Historic’ Law on Lone Migrant Children

Italy passed a new law to protect unaccompanied child migrants that was praised by UNICEF as “historic” and is the first of its kind in Europe.

The Zampa law, approved by parliament, prohibits authorities from turning solo children away at the borders or returning them to countries if either could cause them harm.

The new legislation also sets minimum standards of care for lone children in Italy, including the reduction of time they spend in reception centers, a 10-day deadline to confirm their identities, guaranteed access to healthcare and expansion of the use of guardians and cultural mediators to ensure their needs are met.

“While across Europe we have seen fences going up, children detained and pledges unmet, the Italian parliamentarians have shown their compassion and duty to young refugees and migrants,” said UNICEF’s Afshan Khan. “This new law serves not only to give refugee and migrant children a sense of predictability in their uncertain lives after risking so much to get to Europe – it serves as a model for how other European countries could put in place a legislative framework that supports protection.”

Nearly 26,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Italy in 2016. UNICEF says 92 percent of children taking refugee boats to Italy are between 14 and 17 years old and traveling alone.

The Italian Senate also passed a decree this week expanding the number of detention centers for migrants facing deportation and cutting the time for their appeals, which will now be reviewed by the parliament’s lower chamber.

3,000 Flee Homes in Drought-Stricken Somalia Every Day

Some 438,000 people have been displaced by the severe drought in Somalia since November, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

“Over 3,000 people a day are being forced to abandon their homes in search of water and food,” said NRC’s director in Somalia Victor Moses. “This is the highest displacement we’ve witnessed since the 2011 famine, and it’s spiralling higher each day.”

Thousands have fled to the southern cities of Mogadishu and Baidoa to beg for food, or to neighboring Ethiopia, which has also seen 100,000 people displaced by drought this year.

It is the worst drought to hit the region in 20 years, causing cholera outbreaks in two-thirds of Somali regions and raising fears of a hunger crisis like the 2011 Somali famine, which killed 260,000 people and prompted an exodus from the country.

Shipwreck Survivors Found After Teen Found Alone at Sea

The International Organization for Migration said the survivors of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean Sea  have been found after a 16-year-old Gambian boy was found hanging onto a fuel tank adrift at sea and thought he was the only survivor.

He told rescuers that the boat left Libya a couple of days earlier with 147 Africans on board, including several pregnant women and five children. He was brought to shore on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Later, IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said 140 survivors from the same dinghy as the Gambian boy were found at sea, as well as one dead body, and brought to Augusta, Sicily.

Over 1,000 migrants and refugees have been rescued from the sea this week. Before the latest shipwreck, the U.N. estimated that around 650 people had died in the Mediterranean Sea this year.

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