The arrival of 83 Syrian refugees at Rome's Fiumicino airport | Photo: ANSA/TELENEWS
The arrival of 83 Syrian refugees at Rome's Fiumicino airport | Photo: ANSA/TELENEWS

More than 2,000 Syrian refugees alone arrived in Italy, France, Belgium and Andorra in 2018 through humanitarian corridor projects.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, in response to criticism over Italy's refussal to let ships of NGOs Sea Watch and Sea Eye dock, suggested that humanitarian corridors, in particular those that use flights, could resolve the migration problem. Humanitarian corridors, in fact, have already been in use for a few years through some Italian initiatives. 

In 2018, a total of 2,200 Syrian refugees arrived through human corridors to Italy, France, Belgium, and Andorra. 

A project organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio together with the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) has brought more than 1,000 migrants to Italy from Syria and countries in Africa. More than 300 other migrants were brought to safety in Italy through a similar project by the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), in collaboration with the UN and Tripoli. In recent years, CEI also rescued Syrian migrants from refugee camps in Jordan. 

Project launched in 2015 

The humanitarian corridors project was launched in late 2015 with input from the Community of Sant'Egidio and FCEI. Vulnerable refugees are brought to Italy when a "guarantor" agrees to provide lodging and support to them. These refugees include single women with children, potential trafficking victims, the elderly, the disabled, the sick, and people whom the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR has recognized as refugees. 

Other countries have to duplicated this model, such as France and Belgium. Offices have been set up in Africa and the Middle East for refugees from Syria, Ethiopia, and countries of Sub-Saharan Africa to manage the humanitarian corridors. 

Renewal of agreement with government imminent 

The costs of transportation for the journeys, whether by air or sea, as well as lodging and legal assistance, were paid in large part with donations from Christian organizations.

After the refugees' arrival, they were offered an integration program that included Italian language lessons, job placement, and school enrolment for children. During the January 1 March for Peace, Community of Sant'Egidio President Marco Impagliazzo said renewal was imminent for the Sant'Egidio and CEI human corridors agreement with the Italian government. This will allow for a new contingent of refugees, from the Horn of Africa, to arrive in Italy. 

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