Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 5, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Salvatore Di Nolfi
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 5, 2020 | Photo: EPA/Salvatore Di Nolfi

During a visit to Italy by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese expressed a willingness to step up shared initiatives for refugee reception and humanitarian corridors.

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese met Wednesday, April 14 with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi for an in-depth discussion on issues of shared interest, especially in light of the effects of migration flows generated by a severe economic and social crisis linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister outlined the results achieved through consolidated collaboration with UNHCR and showed a willingness to step up these shared initiatives for refugee reception, referring in particular to the organizing of transfers via humanitarian corridors.

Constructive approach for new European pact

During the talks, the two officials agreed on the need for a constructive approach for the drawing up of a new European Pact on Immigration and Asylum to focus on solidarity between member states.

High Commissioner Grandi, the interior ministry noted, "thanked Minister Lamorgese and recognized the role played by Italy as a cornerstone in the international panorama of countries offering greater guarantees on the issue of assistance and protection of refugee and asylum seekers".

High commissioner visits Centro Astalli

On Wednesday morning, Grandi visited the cafeteria of the Jesuit-run Centro Astalli refugee center, a school teaching the Italian language, and a shelter for refugee women traveling alone or with children.

"We are grateful to Filippo Grandi for having come to meet with refugees. He met with men and women of several nations -- including Congo, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Nigeria, Azerbaijan Tajikistan, Venezuela, and Cameroon -- they told him their personal stories and plans," commented a priest Camillo Ripamonti, head of Centro Astalli.

The priest added that it became very clear during the meeting that even during the pandemic, integration in Italy "remains ones of the main issues to be resolved." Ripamonti said that instutions all over the country needed to "work to get past the 'emergency logic' and create structural, long-term measures that provide solid opportunities for inclusion." These measures he said, would be "necessary not only for refugees but for the entire country."

Ripamonti noted that, in particular, Italy needed to start drawing up "reasonable timelines for receiving stay permits, training, job inclusion, the conversion of educational certificates, family reunification, and access to credit," for those who qualify for some form of protection or residency. He said it would only be by following this direction that Italy could take the path towards becoming a more "united, solidarity-oriented, and prosperous country."


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