Refugees wait to be registered by the Asylum Service at the Identification Center of Moria, Lesvos island, Greece | Photo: EPA/PANAGIOTIS BALASKAS
Refugees wait to be registered by the Asylum Service at the Identification Center of Moria, Lesvos island, Greece | Photo: EPA/PANAGIOTIS BALASKAS

The Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome is promoting an initiative thanks to which 150 volunteers, together with a group of cultural mediators, will take turns to spend the summer with refugees on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Samos. The initiative runs through August 31.

A total of 150 volunteers from the Rome-based peacemaking and ecumenical Catholic Community of Sant'Egidio, together with a group of cultural mediators, will take turns from July 20 until August 31 to spend their summer holidays with refugees on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Samos. 


The initiative is part of a wider summer program to campaign for solidarity, which is promoted under the hashtag #santegidiosummer. It is aimed at raising awareness on the situation experienced by asylum seekers on the Greek islands who need to wait for long periods of time before their application is processed. 

Activities proposed 

Volunteers will teach English language courses and organize laboratories with a range of activities, including entertainment for children and teens, parties and cultural exchanges. ''The objective is to keep hope alive for those who have fled war or terrible living conditions in their home country and are now in a sort of 'limbo' which mainly weighs on the young who lose confidence in the future," the Community said in a statement. 

Most of the 7,000 refugees currently registered on Lesvos are Afghan nationals while in Samos many of the 5,000 refugees are from sub-Sahara Africa. Many youths and minors hope they will have a better life. 

Sant'Egidio praises Von der Leyen on humanitarian corridors 

The Community of Sant'Egidio said it appreciated when last week at the European Parliament in Strasbourg Ursula von der Leyen, the then-candidate for president of the European Commission, spoke about the need to ''save human lives'' in the Mediterranean Sea. 

She spoke about the need to use humanitarian corridors to safeguard the asylum right of refugees fleeing wars and countries where their fundamental rights are not guaranteed. This is the path that the Community of Sant'Egidio - together with Catholic and Protestant Churches and civil society - has taken since 2016 in Italy, France, Belgium and Andorra, succeeding so far in hosting and integrating over 2,600 people, the organization said in the statement. 

''However, it is also a system that can be adopted on a wider scale by the European Union'', it said. ''It is necessary for Europe to confront the phenomenon of immigration as a whole, opening new pathways to regular'' immigration.
 

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