Children from Afghanistan found in Rome manholeApril 4th, 2009 - 5:42 pm ICT by IANS
Rome, April 4 (DPA) Italian police inspecting a manhole at a railway station in Rome have discovered 24 children from Afghanistan living in makeshift shelter of cardboard and blankets.
Officials believe the children, whose ages range from 10 to 15, travelled from Afghanistan unaccompanied by their parents, according to news reports Saturday.
It was not immediately clear when the children arrived in Italy, although it appears they may have spent some time in Turkey after leaving their homeland, officials said.
The children shared their living space with over 90 adults at Rome’s Ostiense train station where many of the city’s homeless seek refuge, especially on cold winter nights.
The children have been transferred to two municipal youth shelters where through interpreters attempts are being made to identify them, Rome’s welfare superintendent Sveva Belviso said.
Since January, the number of requests to house unaccompanied children in city shelters has increased by 100 percent, she said.
“The 900 beds have now all been taken and we are now forced to seek alternative accommodation in other Italian regions,” Belviso said.
The discovery of the Afghan children highlights the Italian capital’s soaring homelessness problems, officials say.
During checks this week carried out at the city’s four main railway stations, police identified 95 homeless people, 85 of whom are immigrants.
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Tags: afghan children, cardboard, city shelters, cold winter nights, dpa, homeless people, homelessness, italian capital, italian police, italian regions, living space, makeshift shelter, manhole, news reports, railway station, railway stations, time in turkey, train station, unaccompanied children, youth shelters