PARIS, MARCH 14 – Following the Italian example, France in cooperation with several associations including Secours Catholique and the Community of S. Egidio, is opening a ”humanitarian corridor” between Lebanon and France to guarantee that refugees from the Syrian conflict are able to travel without risking their lives at sea and will eventually be welcome in the host country.
The agreement for the arrival in France of 500 refugees was signed today at the Elysee Palace, with President Francois Holland in attendance. It will enable refugees at the border between Syria and Lebanon to be granted an asylum visa for France. They will be flown into France and obtain the refugee status.
”Indifference is our main adversary when there is a situation of crisis”, said Hollande. But ”intolerance is even worse than indifference as it consists in not wanting to welcome and pushing on fear to prevent solidarity”.
”France is the second country to create these humanitarian corridors after Italy,” recalled the French President, barely two months from the date of the next elections. Holland said that welcoming refugees is “a moral and constitutional duty” for France. The new protocol foresees 500 arrivals over a year and a half. The majority of the refugees would come from Syria and will be selected among the most vulnerable categories. They will arrive with a humanitarian visa and will be eventually receive the refugee status. The Memorandum was signed by five promoting organizations: the St. Egidio Community, the Protestant Federation of France, the French Bishops’ Conference, Entraide Protestante and Secours Catholique. The French State was represented by the Minister of Interior Bruno Le Roux, and by Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. The bishop of Saint-Denis, Monsignor Pascal Delannoy, signed the memorandum on behalf of the French Bishops’ Conference. “Both parties – he explained – pledge to facilitate the arrival in France of people currently sheltered in Lebanon.”
From Italy the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro welcomed the agreement: speaking on behalf of the Italian government,said the memorandum is “of the greatest importance also because the war in Syria has reached its sixth year turning point”, while the world “is living a season of globalization of indifference”. (@OnuItalia)