French civil society groups have formalized an agreement with the French government to renew the "Humanitarian Corridors" protocol. The deal benefits vulnerable Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
A renewal of an agreement signed in Paris on April 13 seeks to resettle to France 300 refugees currently living in Lebanon.
Signatories include the French interior and foreign ministers as well as the heads of the Catholic association of Sant'Egidio and the Semaines Sociales de France.
The agreement follows a 2017 memorandum of understanding that allowed 504 refugees to enter France and lays down the conditions for the identification, reception, and integration of the targeted refugees.
The project's aim
"The stories of those who have arrived show that we can do more than saving people from falling into the hands of human traffickers -- we can start integration processes too," the Community of Sant'Egidio said in a statement.
"In these times of pandemic, filled with all kinds of difficulties, -- the grave situation in initial host countries like Lebanon being an example -- it becomes more important not to leave refugees alone," the statement continues.
The program grants the refugees legal entry in France. Priority will reportedly be given to vulnerable families and individuals. Upon their arrival in the host country, partner associations will welcome the refugees into facilities and homes. The project will also support the integration process and assist the refugees with matters such as learning the language and job search.
Building on a success story
Started in Italy in 2016, humanitarian corridors have already resettled more than 3,500 refugees to Europe. Most of them had fled violence and war in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Ethiopia or were stranded in the camps on the Greek Islands. They now have homes in countries such as Italy, France, Belgium, and Andorra.
The organizers see these projects as replicable models at a European level. "Humanitarian corridors have seen the generosity of many citizens," Sant'Egidio community's statement mentions. "This shows that building a Europe that lives up to its ideals of humanism and solidarity is possible," the statement concludes.