Pilot program aims to train 900 unaccompanied minor refugees in Catalonia

The current initiative is housing and preparing 40 migrants under 18 in the southern town of Tarragona

A group of unaccumpanied minors at the training on November 19 2018 (by Núria Torres)
A group of unaccumpanied minors at the training on November 19 2018 (by Núria Torres) / ACN

ACN | Tarragona

November 19, 2018 08:02 PM

A pilot initiative houses and educates 40 migrant minors separated from their parents, in the southern town of Tarragona – and it aims to help close to 900 total, throughout Catalonia.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, we have good educators,” said Bakay Douty, a minor living and studying at the Tarragona Education Complex. From new Guineau and without education, he’s now preparing to be a cook, and like many, he's never before been afforded an opportunity like this. 

Bakay Douty Traoré said called the training “a great opportunity for us,” adding that he’d “never been able to do anything like this in his whole life.” For his part, Mahamadou Mohamed Sidibe said that he was unsure what would happen next, but ventured: I hope I’ll have a good future, because, here, I have a lot of opportunities. Meanwhile, Ayman spoke of the living situation in Tarragona: “It’s very good to live here,” he said, adding that “the people are really great.”

Aimed at older teens

It’s important to remember that the term 'unaccompanied minors' does not necessarily mean children—and in fact, this initiative is aimed at young people between 16 and 17 years of age.  There are currently 40 in the pilot program in Tarragona.

They’re part of a demographic which saw an alarming spike this autumn. Upwards of 3,000 unaccompanied minors arrived in Catalonia this year - compared to the 400 of 2016. This has put a strain on the system, leaving dozens of these young people to seek shelter in police stations as the weather gets colder.

6,000 people set to come next year

And things aren’t set to get any easier. The Catalan minister of work, social affairs, and family, Chakir el Homrani, explained that “if the evolution from these past years is maintained, we can expect some six thousand young people.”

Still, the government maintains hope through its initiative. When it comes to the 900 young migrants the program aims to help, officials point out that for social inclusion to work, there needs to be labor inclusion, too.