France – Migrants and young people, Salesian network at the forefront

25 February 2021

(ANS - Paris) - For many years, unaccompanied foreign minors (UASC) have been welcomed in the Homes of Children of a Social Character (MECS) of the “Don Bosco Action Social” network. But in the last five years this apostolate has received a clear acceleration, so much so that today there are almost a thousand UASCs accompanied by the Salesian network. Like? Where? Why? Here is the answer to all these questions.

In November 2016, during the dismantling of the so-called "Jungle of Calais" by the state, a slum that had emerged on the outskirts of Calais, the Don Bosco Institute of Gradignan (IDB) was asked to welcome 12 young Afghans within 48 hours.

A few months later, in 2017, the IDB responded to another request for help, this time from the Gironde Department. It welcomed 26 UASCs in its Vocational Training Center, which already hosted 45, and in 2018 it was entrusted with the management of a center for 20 young migrants in Biganos. In the meantime, it has also opted to respond to requests for projects from the Departments of the New Aquitaine Region, finally arriving at the proper development of the “Don Bosco UASC Platforms”. Today there are ten, which host about 750 UASCs.

Educational assistance is based on a caring and dignified welcome for each young person and on the consideration of all aspects of his life: health, schooling, learning autonomy, maintaining ties with the family of origin - when possible - socialization and cultural life, learning French, citizenship, regularization of the administrative situation. Accommodation is provided on a widespread basis. And fundamental importance is given to schooling and professional integration: to date, more than 90% of the young people welcomed are engaged in a schooling or apprenticeship process.

But the Don Bosco Institute of Gradignan is not the only one. The Bocage Foundation of Chambéry has also opened specific structures for the reception of UASCs, such as "Odyssey", which hosts 15; the External Reception Service (Service d’hébergement extérieur - SHE) which hosts 25 in small studios; 3 who live more independently in apartments of the foundation; and another 9 welcomed by the “Solidarity Families”, a program entrusted by the Department of Savoy to the Salesian foundation.

In the west of France, the "Maison internationale Garelli 14" (MAIG 14) is a reception facility that follows 48 young UASCs, housed in the boarding schools of the "Lemonnier Institute" in Caen and the "Don Bosco High School" in Giel. During the day the UASC attend lessons and workshops and in the evening they participate in boarding school life. It is a fully satisfactory system, both in terms of vocational training and in terms of social integration.

Finally, near Paris, five associations of the "Don Bosco Action Sociale" network (the Don Bosco Institute, Le Valdocco, AEPCR, the "Cité de l'Espérance", and "Notre-Dame de Montmélian") joined in 2019 to respond to an appeal from the Department of Val d'Oise (Paris region) and have accepted 60 UASCs. Furthermore, in 2020, the network also launched a system of widespread reception and socio-professional support especially aimed at these adolescents.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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