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FARO project

FARO is a first aid project implemented by Terre des Hommes with the aim to provide psychosocial and mental health support to the most vulnerable categories of migrants arriving in Italy by sea: unaccompanied migrant minors and families with babies.

The aim of the project is to make the Italian reception system more adapted to migrant needs, according to the human rights principles.

FARO seeks to reduce the sense of ‘abandon’ of these children by helping them to find a new sense for their life throughout a large range of psycho-social activities in coordination with the Public Health and Social Service.

FARO is implemented under an institutional agreement signed by Terre des Hommes and the Local branch of the Ministry of the Interior (Prefettura of Syracuse and Ragusa) and the Public Health Service of the two Provinces.

FARO is financed by Fondacion D’Harcourt, C&A, and Terre des Hommes members organizations.



Since January 2015 more than 170.000 migrants arrived in Italy, 1 third of them (66.066) are currently hosted in the reception centers of Sicily and 64.886 of them asked for Asylum.

They all arrived by sea and most of them come from Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and from the Sub-Saharan region.

On October it was estimated that 10.000 unaccompanied migrant minors were rescued, representing 73% of the total of migrant minors arriving in Italy. The phenomenon of unaccompanied migrant minors has increased in comparison with 2014 when unaccompanied minors were representing 50% of the total migrant minors.

Syracuse and Ragusa

Faro 2015Sicily, together with Lombardia, is one of the two Italian regions hosting the largest number of migrants and the two Provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa are the two main entry points to Italy. That’s why, since the beginning of 2015, Terre des Hommes Italy started to implement theFARO project in the reception centers based in those two provinces. Two mobile teams are working there and there are composed of one psychologist, one mediator and one sociologist each working in 5 centers hosting unaccompanied migrant minors and families with babies.

Faro is also present at the dock of Pozzallo during the disembarkation where Terre des Hommes supplies first emergency psychological support. In addition to that, Faro project is acting at the Italy-France border and the rail station in Milan where Terre des Hommes distributed non-food kits for children and families.

Since January 2015 nearly 200 people were taken in charge individually by the psychologists and more than 850 had access to the wide range of psychosocial services offered by the project.Distribuzione kit Stazione centrale (7)

Between January 2015 and October 2015, Terre des Hommes identified that 50 unaccompanied minors moved away from the centers where the Faro project was implemented which demonstrates the high vulnerability of these minors. This fact also confirms the national figures on the phenomenon of disappearing children according to which approximately one third of these minors escape from the shelters because of the fear not be able to start their life project due to the lack of assistance in the centers.

During their stay in the CPSA (First Rescue and Aid Centers) children and families experience a global emotional, physical and psychological trauma. Unaccompanied migrant minors are particularly affected and frequently show many forms of trauma such as apathy, anxiety, depression and a sense of guilt anytime they have lost a friend/parent during the trip.  They often feel alone and abandoned and that’s the reason why it is crucial for them to access to a qualified mental health support as well as to appropriate psychosocial activities helping them to stimulate their resilience to plan their future life project.





Since January 2014, 5,293 children, of whom 3,038 were unaccompanied have landed in Syracusa, Sicily. A flow of this magnitude required a big effort for municipalities in charge of managing reception of migrants, which requires special procedures and methodologies. These numbers corresponds to one-fifth of the migrants who land on the Italian shores.

In the absence of adequate assistance and legal protection, unaccompanied foreign minors are easy prey for organized crime and end up getting away from shelters.  To avoid such risk and provide adequate protection to children migrants, Terre des Hommes launched in March 2014 the 4th phase of the project Faro. During this phase, we have deepened our psycho-social and psychological assistance to children, and have produced a guide for social workers dealing with child protection.

A guide for social workers in reception of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors

To provide adequate assistance to migrant children arriving by sea, it is necessary that all those involved in the reception of migrant children are adequately prepared. The purpuse is to provide children with qualified support and enable them to understand and accept the reasons of their migration. It is in this sense that Terre des Hommes produced the First Psychosocial Guide for Social Workers involved in the reception of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (also in Italian), produced with the support grant from the Foundation Prosolidar. The guide aims to highlight the complexity of the needs of unaccompanied migrant minors and propose useful contributions to the implementation of measures that go in the direction of offering psychosocial support to these children.

 What about the psycho-social and psychological work  ?

The intervention of TDH intends to build a relationship and a respectful listening through reception, orientation, and support.This work is realized with the unaccompanied foreign minors present in the center of First Reception for Unaccompanied Minors Papa Francesco Priolo Gargallo (Syracusa). The activities will be extended to Lampedusa when the Centre for First Aid and Home (CPSA) will be reopened, probably by end 2014.

The Psychosocial support provided by TDH is structured on the base of the different needs of the target groups.

  • With the Children: The activities aim at providing them a secure frame in which they can freely experiment and reconnect with one’s own emotions, play, and find some serenity.
  • With the Mothers : The activities targeting the mothers are aimed at giving them, on one hand, a technical support to help them manage the emotional, behavioral, and health problems of their children. On the other hand, to help the mothers manage her own emotions, thoughts, and fears, to permit them to manifest themselves in the new context. The project helps the woman find within herself the necessary resources with which to look with confidence and strength to the future.

Faro  IV is financed by Fondazione Prosolidar, C&A, and various Terre des Hommes Organisations members of the Terre des Hommes International Federation




Psycho-social support to migrant unaccompanied minors and families

Terre des Hommes’ activities and commitment in favor of unaccompanied migrant minors and families housed in the reception center of Lampedusa have entered their third stage with the project Faro III. The project is part of the Destination Unknown Campaign.

Unaccompanied minors and families with children, fleeing their home countries to escape war, violence and poverty, reach Lampedusa in a state of physical and mental vulnerability. This is due to the hardness of their journey and to the long series of deprivations, abuses and violence they have assisted to or have been victim of.

Thus, the aim of the project is to give them psycho-social support to allow them to cope with, and possibly to overcome their traumas and to make them feel at ease in their uncomfortable and unstable situation, during their stay at the overcrowded center of reception. Our working conditions are tough, and we constantly face a state of daily emergency, because of many reasons: overcrowding of the center of reception, lack of dedicated spaces for the execution of activities with children, and so on.

Activities are carried out by a psychologist, psychotherapist and an arab speaking  linguistic-cultural mediator, who, so far, have assisted 750 people in three months. Some key elements mark our intervention:

  • We identify the different needs of three different groups of people, namely children accompanied by their parents, the parents themselves, boys and girls without family. With each group, our approach is different, according to their specific situation.
  • We apply no standard procedures. Our aim is to make people the actors and not passive beneficiaries of our services, as they already undergo objectification and depersonalization feelings during their everyday life in the center of reception.
  • We listen to people, showing high consideration of every single person’s story, needs, expectations.
  • We do not use questionnaires
  • We do not put pressure on persons, but observe carefully the group dynamics in order to identify the most delicate way to approach them.

Our flexible approach allows us to give people support in a personalized way, according to the specific needs of each individual.




Once ended its intervention in Lampedusa, Terre des Hommes identified the urgent need of working in the field of reception, in order to improve the training of operators who will deal with unaccompanied minors arriving from Lampedusa. Consequently, in December 2011, Terre des Hommes and CNOAS – the Italian National Council of Social Assistants – launched Faro II. The project consisted in legal and social training for social assistants and operators working in the reception community for foreign unaccompanied minors (MSNA). Faro II training activities took place in: Messina, Crotone, Bari, Napoli, Palermo and Genova, and other Italian municipalities.

Specific objective of the project:

1) to analyse national and international regulations on reception, focusing on the welcoming of unaccompanied minors, on guardianship and asylum procedures, with a further look on future plans and emerging criticalities;

2) to contribute to the creation of shared procedures and answers to both minors and operators needs, with the purpose of going beyond the mere emergency mentality and policies.

The training contents were:

1) the enforcement of procedures and legal practices regarding migration

2) asylum and reception of unaccompanied migrant minors and families procedures and practices in Italy, according to international conventions.

The aim of the project was to respond to the growing needs of adjournment and coordination of the different subjects involved in reception, in the context of Emergency North-Africa.




In response to the North Africa Emergency, which made hundreds of unaccompanied minors flee to Italy to escape from war, Terre des Hommes Italy decided to intervene in Lampedusa, ensuring unaccompanied minors direct support and protection. Unaccompanied foreign minors should have been promptly transferred from Lampedusa to ad hoc protected reception centres, based in different Italian Municipalities. Unfortunately, this was severely hindered by the lack of adequate financial coverage from the Government. This is the reason why children were forced to stay in Lampedusa for weeks, waiting for appropriate accommodation to become available somewhere else in the country. Terre des Hommes Italy has been supporting minors and families with children with legal and counseling service, from 16 June to 15 September 2011. Activities were carried out by two mediators expert in the field of migration, by a ten-year experienced lawyer on human rights, and coordinated by the Field Programme referent of Terre des Hommes Italy. During the implementation of the project, Terre des Hommes reached around 1000 children, supporting more than 150 of them with ad hoc counselling and legal support.

Both Faro I and Faro II were implemented thanks to the contributions of Fondazione Prosolidar and Fondazione Vodafone.

Source: Terre des Hommes Italy