NEW YORK, JUNE 8 – The “Little UN of Trastevere” joins forces with the United Nations: on Friday in New York the Presidente the Italian Ngo Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, and the Undersecretary general for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will sign a memorandum of understanding to establish opportunities of strategic cooperation in situation of crisis.
It’s a unprecedented alliance for peace. The agreement has its base on the successful initiatives for mediation and peace of Sant’Egidio, from Mozambique in the ’90s, to Burundi, from Cote d’Ivoire to Niger, from Kosovo to Bosnia and Guatemala, more recently in Senegal, Central African Republic and Libya. The role of the Italian Ngo was praised last September by then Secretary General Ban Ki moon: “With its inter-religious and inter-cultural character, Sant’Egidio reaffirms that only through dialogue and negotiation we can find sustainable solutions to violence.”
Among the areas of a possible joint mission between the UN and the Ngo is South Sudan, the youngest country of the United Nations family which has been locked in civil war since 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Along the years, the Community of Sant’Egidio has more and more become an independent international institution. Strong of 70.000 members in more than 70 countries, the Ngo is able to unite the presence on the field, the education to peace of young generations, the care for the weakest and most marginalized parts of society, the sensitivity to dialogue with all faiths and finally a purely political dimension of the resolution of conflicts. The Community’s branch of International Peace Activities not only focuses on upholding human rights, but also, through dialogue, focuses on ending the conflicts that perpetuate strife.
The Community of Sant’Egidio was established in 1968 as a Faith Based Organization by high school students, to fully pursue peace and solidarity. Since its creation, the Community has made significant and lasting contributions locally and internationally. For this work, it has been the recipient of the Balzan Peace Prize and UNESCO’s Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, among others. Established and run by lay people, the Community of Sant’Egidio recognizes the struggles of people of all cultures and faiths.
Since 2001, the Community has led a campaign against HIV/AIDS and hunger through The DREAM Program (Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition). This campaign, providing free treatment and care, has been launched in Malawi, Nigeria, Republic of Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique. Starting in 2007, the Community has also spearheaded a movement for birth registration, under the acronym BRAVO (Birth Registration for All Versus Oblivion), which helps people to become citizens so that they may enjoy the fundamental human rights that would have otherwise been withheld if they lacked citizenship. BRAVO, although a new program, has already made significant headway in Burkina Faso and Malawi.
Last but not least, the “humanitarian corridors”: a joint initiative of the Community with the Waldesian Church and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. This pilot project, the first of its kind in Europe, has as main objectives to avoid trips with the boats in the Mediterranean, which have already caused a high number of deaths, including many children; prevent the exploitation of human traffickers who do business with those who flee from wars; grant to people in “vulnerable conditions” legal entry on Italian territory with humanitarian visa, with the possibility to apply for asylum. (@OnuItalia)