Pagella in tasca: study channels for refugee minors

Adam is 16 and his dream is to become a doctor. He was born in a refugee camp in Darfur. On his own at age 11, he fled Sudan to Libya, and has since lost contact with his family. For two years he has lived in a refugee camp in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, where he and many like him, have no opportunities. Thanks to his commitment and capabilities shown in the camp’s educational channels, Adam was selected to participate in the INTERSOS project “PAGELLA IN TASCA – Study Channels for Refugee Minors.” He is preparing to leave for Italy, where he will be welcomed into a foster family and attend school.



The project “PAGELLA IN TASCA – Study Channels for Refugee Minors” aims to facilitate the legal entry process with a sponsorship of 35 student visas to be provided for unaccompanied minors with refugee status in Niger. This provides them a safe and sheltered opportunity to come to Italy to study.

This is a pilot project exploring a regular and safe entry channel that is highly innovative compared to the channels currently active (humanitarian corridors, resettlement, etc.), as:

  • specifically designed for the protection of unaccompanied minors, who are currently excluded from humanitarian corridors from non-EU countries and from most other entry channels;
  • aimed at promoting the right to education, as a right recognized to all minors by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and based on the issue of an entry visa for study, provided for by Italian law for minors between 15 and 17 years old, but to date never used to promote the entry of refugee minors;
  • based a principle of “community sponsorship” through the involvement of foster families and volunteer guardians, as well as private social organizations, and creating societal inclusion paths for minors.


This project is in its most fledgling phase: 35 minors will enter Italy with a regular and safe channel of entry, compared to more than 700 individuals who died in transit through the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2021, and more than 13,000 refugees intercepted and forcibly returned to Libya as they tried to escape from war, violence and torture. However, this pilot project is also an important first step. In fact, the opening of a new entry channel may also allow other unaccompanied minors to enter Italy in this protected manner in the future. Welcoming these refugee children into the community can bring a cultural message of openness and welcome, based not only on words but on concrete, shared experiences.




35 unaccompanied minors aged between 16 and 17 will be involved in the project , who fled violence in Darfur and took refuge first in Libya and then resettled in Niger, where they currently live in a refugee camp run by UNHCR in collaboration with INTERSOS. The main criterion for the identification of the minors who will participate in the project, carried out by the staff of INTERSOS and UNHCR operating in Niger, will be academic motivation.





Minors will enter Italy with an entry visa for study, issued with all requirements established by law, such as enrollment in an Italian school and confirmation of accommodations in Italy. The project provides priority for foster families, who are committed to the care of minors and accompanying them along their academic path and social integration.

The minors will study to complete a middle school certificate and will then continue their education in secondary school or in vocational training. The project provides a scholarship for each minor for a period of 12 months to cover living costs, and additional support for minors and their foster families by professional figures (educators, cultural mediators, legal aid, and psychologists).

At the end of the 12-month scholarship any administrative continuation that may be ordered by the Juvenile Court, the beneficiaries may be included in the SAI project where appropriate, remaining with the same foster family, or another project in the same territory.

The project will be implemented in a first phase in the Municipality of Turin, where 15 minors will be welcomed. The other 20 minors will be welcomed in other municipalities, currently in progress. The first 5 unaccompanied minors arrived in Turin in October 2021, were placed with foster families and started their schooling at the CPIAs.




  • Offer to host a refugee minor in foster care. Families and individuals can offer their availability, and there are no age limits. The suitability of candidates will be assessed by the social services of the competent local authority according to the ordinary procedures envisaged for family fostering, and it is necessary to follow a training course. We are currently looking for foster families residing in the Metropolitan City of Turin, but the project will subsequently involve other territories.
  • Propose the involvement of your municipality in the project. Municipalities adhering to the SAI (Reception and Integration System) may be involved, preferably owners of an SAI project for unaccompanied minors. 
  • Propose the involvement of your reception facility in the project. In the case of minors who do not wish to be welcomed into the family, the possibility of integration into a community or structure authorized to welcome unaccompanied minors will be evaluated, against a contribution of an amount not exceeding the scholarship provided for by the project.




For more information on the project write to




The project “PAGELLA IN TASCA – Study Channels for Refugee Minors” is promoted by INTERSOS, in partnership with UNHCR UN Refugee Agency, the Municipality of Turin, the Migrant Pastoral Office of the Diocese of Turin, the CPIA Piedmont Network, the Terremondo cooperative, ASAI and Mosaico associations – Actions for refugees.

In August 2021, a national Memorandum of Understanding was signed which sees among the signatories, in addition to the project partners, also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies.




The project is carried out with the support of the Italian Episcopal Conference (as part of the “Free to leave, free to stay” campaign – Fondi 8 per mille Catholic Church), the Migrantes Foundation, of Acri (as part of the “Migrants” project ) and the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation.