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San Marino approves law to welcome unaccompanied foreign minors from refugee camps

The Republic of San Marino has unanimously approved the bill that will allow individuals and families to welcome unaccompanied foreign minors living in migrant centres or reception facilities. This is the legal basis to start a foster care process, including from the Greek islands. The news was welcomed enthusiastically by Still I Rise, which, as a non-profit organisation has followed the story of the bill from the beginning. After the approval of the agenda, presented by Councillor Sara Conti on 1 July 2020, the bill was brought to the plenary session last 27 April.

“This law came out of a feeling shared by several people, which grew out of the public meeting that Nicolò Govoni held in San Marino more than two years ago”, says Paolo Berardi, spokesperson for the organising committee. “The following summer, Antonella Mularoni, a dear friend of mine, contacted me after a trip to Samos to suggest a wonderful idea, that which became law a few days ago. We immediately started working on the project draft: first, with Nicolò Govoni and Riccardo Geminiani of Still I Rise, then with the associations of San Marino and others. The collaborative work of the council groups and the contribution of the public offices has been key to achieving this historic result.”

With Law no. 79 of 30 April 2021, the Republic of San Marino regulates the legal status of unaccompanied foreign minors, who will be given the chance to be placed and grow up in a family context that can provide all the moral, educational, training and material support they need.

Fostering is permitted to single persons or spouses, citizens or residents of San Marino, who have reached the age of 25 and are able to educate and support the minors. The requirements include the need for foster carers to favour — where possible — the maintenance of contacts between the child and his/her family of origin. Citizens and residents may then foster more children, giving priority to any sibling relationships between them.

An “internal solidarity” mechanism has also been planned; those who are unable to take in children in their own families, but who wish to participate in the project, may decide to financially support one or more minors, who will be entrusted to families or individuals who can take care of them but would not be able to support them financially.

In order to facilitate and encourage fostering practices, the Republic of San Marino forecasts that a Fund for the economic support to foster families may be set up in the future.

Under the direction of the Legal Affairs Department of the Foreign Affairs Department, the Minors Service and the Office for International Adoption and Fostering will manage all foster care stages, with the cooperation of authorised organisations and associations in San Marino.

“This project adds to a fundamental piece to what we do, which had been missing until now,” say Nicolò Govoni and Riccardo Geminiani, President and Vice-President of Still I Rise. “Thanks to the new law, unaccompanied minors who are in our schools in emergency contexts (like Mazì, Samos) will be able to continue their journey of hope in a safe outside context, in families that will take care of them and provide them the necessary support for their growth. We are very happy and deeply grateful to the Republic of San Marino for taking such an important step.” (Press Release)

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