The Italian Lower House's constitutional affairs committee chairman, Giuseppe Brescia of the 5-Star Movement (M5S), said the government has been working for six months to develop a humanitarian corridor for 50,000 people currently in "modern-day concentration camps in Libya where human beings are held in desperate conditions by human traffickers."
Brescia, speaking at the seminar "Humanitarian Corridors for a Unified Europe" held on Monday in Rome, declared that Libya "is not a safe port".
Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Emanuela Claudia Del Re said the government is "conscious that there must be structural, non-emergency responses" to the migratory problem. "We have a duty to protect vulnerable groups," Del Re said. "The model of humanitarian corridors is a worthwhile initiative."
Del Re says humanitarian corridors a smart response
Del Re called humanitarian corridors "a strong and worthwhile response that represents a reasoned and collaborative answer to the migratory phenomenon, rather than always reacting on the wave of emergency, and one that contributes to the fight against human trafficking." She said the Italian humanitarian corridor project already underway needs to be broadened to become a European model, working together with other European countries.
"It would represent a new approach that would allow for closing some gaps in EU policy, and would also facilitate improved social cohesion in the Union," Del Re said. "European humanitarian corridors would be a collective effort for a structural solution, which is needed," she said.
Since 2015, humanitarian corridors have legally and safely brought approximately 2,500 refugees and particularly vulnerable people into Italy, through a program of welcoming and structured integration carried out by civil society associations. Del Re recalled that the program is a partnership with the sponsoring organizations that finance it - the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Italian Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Waldensian Round Table, and the Italian Bishops Conference - and "therefore an initiative at zero cost to the state".
Fico says building walls not solution
Lower House Speaker Roberto Fico of the 5-Star Movement (M5S) also spoke at the event and emphasized that "building walls isn't the way to manage the migratory phenomenon."
"That's not the way that a large country such as Italy can think about facing such an epochal phenomenon. All walls, in fact, are destined to be climbed over or torn down. Our history tells us that," Fico said. He said the relocation mechanism for migrants who reached Italy and Greece, which was adopted by the EU in 2015, wasn't enacted in some countries.
"Those countries can't be our models, because their policies go against the interests of Italy. And not only that, they go against the interests of all of Europe. Behaviors that go against the rules should therefore be prosecuted including with economic penalties, for example, applied to structural funds. Such a serious and manifest violation of a legally binding EU law is not acceptable," he said.