Staying apart but connected during COVID-19
Keeping young people in Italy, including refugees and migrants, connected during the global pandemic
Two successful innovations in Italy that connect young refugees, migrants and their host communities are being adapted by UNICEF and its partners in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 spreads across Italy, all meetings, events and school classes that once brought young people together have been suspended. But two existing youth initiatives are still making their mark: U-Report is being used to respond to the pandemic, while UPSHIFT is being adapted to guarantee its continuity during the crisis.
These include young refugees and migrants, who already face more than their fair share of challenges in their host country, particularly those who are unaccompanied and living in informal reception centres. These challenges include difficulties in understanding recent decrees and measures that relate to their status, particularly if they are not fluent in Italian; struggles to access education or continue job training, and feelings of isolation, with few opportunities to connect with others. And now, lockdowns and quarantine are adding to their frustration and stress.
That is why UNICEF has re-shaped two key parts of its adolescent programming in response to this emergency. Both U-Report on the Move and UPSHIFT have been adapted to guarantee their continuity and expand their reach.
U-REPORT ON THE MOVE was launched in 2017 as part of the refugee and migrants response in Italy. This digital platform enables young refugees and migrants – particularly those who are unaccompanied – to speak out on issues that matter to them. Read the full story here.
UPSHIFT was launched in cooperation with JA (Junior Achievement) Italia in 2018 as a social entrepreneurship programme for young Italians, refugees and migrants. It aims to bring young people together to find and implement workable solutions to challenges in their communities. Read the full story here.
Young people contribute to the fight against COVID-19
Taken together, the adaptation of these already successful initiatives aims to provide a vital sense of connection, as well as purpose and ‘normalcy’ for vulnerable young people at a time of great uncertainty. UNICEF is expanding these initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, striving to stop the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable against its impact by building on effective initiatives that are already in place. We are appealing for $38 million for the Europe and Central Asia Region to support this expansion as part of UNICEF’s Global Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) for COVID-19 response.
Read Bassirou's blog on how he is contributing to the fight against COVID-19.