2017-11-21 ITALY

?Children on the Move ? diritti senza confini?

On its 10-year anniversary and on the United Nations’ Universal Children’s Day, Nov. 20, Marist International Solidarity Foundation for the benefit of children (FMSI) hosted a child rights conference at the Italian Chamber of Deputies in Rome to appeal for migrant children’s right to education.

Speakers at the conference, titled ‘Children on the Move, diritti senza Confini’ (Children on the Move, rights without boundaries), included representatives of Save the Children, Federazione Organismi Cristiani di Servizio Internazionale Volontario (FOCSIV), Jesuit Refugee Service, Italian Red Cross and Terre des Hommes.

During the conference, FMSI released a statement (English | Spanish | Italian) on its position on the right to education of migrant and refugee children. The statement, which was discussed by FMSI child rights advocacy officer Brother Álvaro Sepúlveda, is based on Marist experiences throughout the world, such as Thailand, Lebanon, Australia, Mexico and South Africa.

“Education and formation are the foundation for a better world, a world that needs to be built without anger and without conflicts: we have the duty to overcome inequality and pain,” said Marzia Ventimiglia, director of FMSI.

Marzia told the general house press office that “the idea that I am in my home and you are my guest still prevails. No, this is everyone’s home. The earth is round and there are no borders.”

Also, Brother Georges Sabe, a “Blue Marist” who looks after displaced children in Aleppo, Syria, and was able to attend the conference, underscored the importance of educating children in “forgiveness, reconciliation and resilience,” as well as in self-esteem and in esteeming others.

One of the biggest challenges in helping children affected by war, according to Br Georges, is helping them feel safe, making them stable in their displacement, and assuring them an identity.

During the event, participants watched a clip of the documentary ‘La forza delle donne’ (The strength of women) produced by Laura Aprati and Marco Bova in Iraq and Lebanon. The film includes images of wounded children Laura and Marco saw in a hospital in Erbil, something which Laura described as “a punch in the stomach, something terrible, children were constantly arriving at the hospital.”

Gianfranco Cattai, president of FOCSIV, underscored that “the biggest challenge is to network as much as possible. We need to create permanent relations among our communities placing the future, that is children, as a priority.”

The head of migration of the Italian Red Cross, Francesca Basile, labelled child migration “a phenomenon that affects all of us and that cannot make us indifferent.”

“We’re talking about people who need assistance and protection and it’s our duty to able to guarantee it to them when we see what’s happening on the other side of the ocean,” she affirmed. 

Participants then visited a photographic exhibition at Galleria Alberto Sordi, which is on display until Dec. 2. It includes 16 photographs chosen from a contest open to the participation of children and young people from schools around the world on the topic of migrant children.

According to the United Nations, today, the number of migrants includes 21 million refugees, three million asylum seekers and over 40 million internally displaced persons.

The international community is currently engaged in negotiations for carrying out the Global Compact for Migration in a safe and orderly way.

In addition to FMSI, participants included superior general Brother Ernesto Sánchez, several general councillors, the International Committee of the Marist Mission, which is currently meeting these days at the general house, and several brothers from the general administration.

Click below to watch a video on the conference and interviews with some of the speakers, in Italian.


FMSI  is the foundation created by the Institute to promote and protect the rights of children. FMSI carries on its mission through the activity of advocacy and lobbying and with projects in the countries in which the Marists are present.

FMSI was constituted in 2007 in Italy as a non-profit organization of social usefulness (ONLUS).

From 2011 it has the special consultative status before the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.

FMSI is member of: Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance  (BICE), Centre Catholique International de Genève  (CCIG), Child Rights Connect, Movimiento Mundial por la Infancia de Latinoamérica y El Caribe, FOCSIV  (Federazione degli Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario), Observatorio Niñez y Adolescencia  (ONA), Santiago de Chile.


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