ROME, JANUARY 29 – Refugees from Syria will arrive tomorrow at Fiumicino Airport thanks to the “humanitarian corridors” initiative launched a year ago by three religious Ngos in agreement with the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Homeland Security. “Italy is anchored to its own values. Open society. pluralistic identity, no discrimination. There are the pillars of Europe”, the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni stated today on Twitter after the executive order by the White House that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order also barred green-card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States.
The “humanitarian corridors” initiative is a pilot project, the first of its kind in Europe, and has as four main objectives: 1- avoid trips with the boats in the Mediterranean, which have already caused a high number of deaths, including many children; 2- prevent the exploitation of human traffickers who do business with those who flee from wars; 3- grant to people in “vulnerable conditions” ( victims of persecution, torture and violence, as well as families with children, elderly people, sick people, persons with disabilities) legal entry on Italian territory with humanitarian visa, with the possibility to apply for asylum; 4- permission to enter Italy in a safe way both for themselves and for the host country, considering that the issuing of humanitarian visas foresees all the necessary controls by the Italian authorities.
The “humanitarian corridors” are the result of an ecumenical collaboration between Catholics and Protestants: the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Waldensian and Methodist Churches have decided to join forces for this high-profile project which soon will be implemented in other countries in Europe such as France and Poland.
So far last year, about 500 Syrian refugees and a few refugees from Iraq, both countries targeted by Trump’s executive order, were welcomed in Italy through the “humanitarian corridors”. Tomorrow’s arrivals of about 40 people will be the first in 2017, with the goal of a total of about 1,000 in the course of the year. “The model works because puts together humanity with security”, said Sant’Egidio on its web site. Together with the Italian authorities, some refugees who arrived in Italy in 2016 will be at the airport to welcome the new group arriving from Beirut.
The refugees, once in Italy are not only welcomed, but they are offered integration in the Italian social and cultural fabric, through the learning of the Italian language, schooling of minors and other initiatives. In this perspective they are given at arrival a copy of the Italian Constitution translated into their language. (@alebal)