The Community of St Egidio formalises an agreement with the French Government and the Semains Sociales de France to renew the “Humanitarian Corridors” protocol.
An agreement signed on Wednesday in Paris between the St Egidio Community, the French Ministers of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs, and a Catholic lay organization, Semains Sociales de France, lays down the conditions for the identification, reception and integration in France of 300 refugees.
The refugees are vulnerable people from Iraq and Syria, many of them families. They are currently in Lebanon and will be flown to France within the next two years.
This second protocol follows a similar one signed in 2017, which has already allowed for the entry into France of 504 people.
Launched in Italy in February 2016, thanks to the Humanitarian Corridors project, over 3,500 refugees have already been welcomed into Europe. Most of them have fled violence in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Ethiopia or were temporarily detained in the migrant centers on the Greek island of Lesbos.
The support of Pope Francis
The Humanitarian Corridors project has repeatedly been supported and upheld by Pope Francis as a win-win solution for all in the current complex migration scenario.
He himself brought a group of refugees to Italy when he travelled to visit the migrants and refugees on Lesbos on 16 April 2016. Subsequently he has appealed to the international community to help evacuate refugees and migrants trapped in migrant facilies in Lybia, “especially the women, the children and the sick, as soon as possible through the safety of humanitarian corridors.”
The project, which is completely self-financed, is implemented by the Rome-based Community of St Egidio together with the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Church.
The project’s aims
It aims to provide safe passage to refugees who too often are forced to resort to dangerous sea crossings in which tens of thousands have died, as well as prevent exploitation by human traffickers.
It grants people in “vulnerable conditions” (victims of persecution, torture and violence, families with children, elderly, infirm, people with disabilities) legal entry into Europe through humanitarian visas and the opportunity for asylum application thereafter.
It also provides guarantees to the host State as the processing of humanitarian visas implies necessary checks run by authorities.
Once in the host country, the refugees are welcomed into facilities and homes at the expense of partner associations; they are given language classes, the children are enrolled in school and the adults are assisted in finding work.
By Linda Bordoni