Humanitarian Corridors. New arrivals from Lebanon on 3 July

Rome, 2 July 2018 (NEV/CS26) – Several Syrian and Iraqi families fleeing the war will arrive from Lebanon, where they have been living for years under extremely difficult conditions. 33 people will benefit from this one-way trip, which will take them from Beirut to different regions of Italy via the Fiumicino Airport of Rome, where they will apply for asylum as soon as they land.

Thus continues the ecumenical “humanitarian corridors” project – another group arrived last week – co-promoted by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), the Waldensian Board, and Community of Sant’Egidio, in agreement with the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs.

The arriving families, as well as some young single refugees, will be transferred to Rome, Turin, Luserna San Giovanni (Turin), Trento, Florence and Piacenza, looking for a new life thanks to the generosity and dedication of many Italians. Safety, hospitality and integration paths are offered by Protestant organisations, the Diaconia Valdese, and by the Community of Sant’Egidio.

The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy is also active in rescues at sea, in particular with the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, travelling to Barcelona where 59 survivors currently on board the tug boat are expected to arrive. Neither Malta nor Italy have guaranteed docking in a safe harbour.

“Despite everything, there is an Italy and a Europe of solidarity and hospitality that deserves much more attention and respect,” says Paolo Naso, coordinator of Mediterranean Hope, the FCEI refugee and migrant programme. “While weak and contradictory proposals are arriving from Brussels, the proposals and good practices of humanitarian corridors are making their mark in Italy and abroad. We hope that it will continue to expand and consolidate, and not only for humanitarian reasons, but also to be faithful to the principles and values at the base of a European solidarity project that today seems, if not cancelled, criticised and set aside by those who should affirm and vitalise it”.

Since the beginning of the ecumenical “humanitarian corridors” project – the first arrival dates back to February 2016 – 1249 people have landed in Italy from Lebanon, 447 of them children. The vast majority have been granted refugee status, while a few others have other forms of international protection. To date, 308 people have achieved full and complete autonomy.

Similar projects have also been launched on an experimental basis in France and Belgium. A further project exists from Ethiopia towards Italy promoted by various Catholic organisations.