Separated Children’s Migration in the Mediterranean Sea. An Ethnohistorical Perspective

Elisabetta Di Giovanni


In the imaginary of Italian people, the Island of Lampedusa (Italy) has always been considered a paradise destination for summer holidays. The beauty of this small island at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, far from big harbors and cities, with its rich biodiversity and unspoilt nature, has made it a national and international tourist attraction. However, in recent years its name become associated with scenes of tragic, desperate journeys made by people of different origins trying to reach Europe from North African coasts. This shift exists not only in Italian people’s perception, but also all over the world, as the news related to Lampedusa and other Italian areas affected by this phenomenon often finds a place in major foreign newspapers. Even if migrants have been reaching Italian (and, more generally, South European) coasts for the last 20 years, the date of 3 October 2013 constitutes a significant turning point, as the shipwreck that occurred on this day lead to numerous deaths and the Italian coast guard has been accused of an unsuccessful, belated rescue of the people on the vessel. In recent months the number of people, especially unaccompanied children, arriving by boat has increased. Most of them are fleeing from wars and persecution, and even if they are aware of the risk of crossing the Mediterranean Sea, they still decide to try. The paper presents the results of an ethnographic research conducted with unaccompanied and separated children in Sicily, in order to point out their oral memories.


Human mobilities, Unaccompanied and Separated Children, Forced Migration, Mediterranean Sea, Ethnohistory

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