Terre des Hommes Italia

FARO – Providing psychosocial support to unaccompanied migrant minors

2014 - 2018

The number of migrants headed for Italy – and Greece – is growing faster than anywhere else in the European Union. Some 14% of migrants arriving in Italy by boat are unaccompanied minors, the most vulnerable migrants. Under Italian law, minors should be temporarily housed in emergency shelters and later moved to foster homes and placed in integration and education programs. This does not always happen in Sicily, where the sheer influx of migrants means children are often left in overcrowded and decaying primary aid centers for months with little protection.

The project provides psycho-social and psychological support to unaccompanied migrant minors and children in two primary aid centers in the province of Syracuse, Sicily: Casa Freedom in Priolo and Villa Montevago in Caltagirone.

Each child receives individual and tailored psychological support and the most vulnerable cases are referred to public health services.

Children who are pulled from their familiar surroundings and who may have undergone the trauma of migration require a sense of safety and the possibility of speaking about their traumatic experience. These are provided by psycho-social integration and orientation activities. The children are taught Italian in small groups organized by mother tongue – English, French or Arabic. When needed, one-to-one sessions with a psychologist are organized. Finally, the most suitable school or training programe is identified for each child.

Two internationally recognized psychiatrists supervise the TdH team: Dr. Roberto Beneduce and Dr. Simona Taliani.

To ensure Syracuse’s public health services also benefit from the project, FARO provides training on its psychological and psycho-social approach throughout the year.

At the request of the national public authorities, in June 2016 TdH began delivering Psychological First Aid training to the most vulnerable migrants arriving at Syracuse’s Augusta docks.

Project Highlights


1 psychologist

1 Arabic-speaking linguistic and cultural mediator

1 sociologist

Activities and beneficiaries


unaccompanied minors received ad hoc psychological support


unaccompanied minors received psychological assessment


unaccompanied minors supported in the identified centers


sessions of psychosocial activities

©François Struzik / ©Andrea Frazzetta