The refugees – eight families with 20 minors – arrived in Rome on Wednesday. This humanitarian corridor transfer from Libya was organized by Caritas and UNHCR.
The group of 45 refugees from Niger landed at Rome's Fiumicino airport, after a stopover in Tunis, on July 23. The refugees reached Italy through a new humanitarian corridor program organized by the Italian chapter of Caritas together with the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
Caritas said the 45 refugees from Niger were "families who experienced hell in Libya and who will finally be able to find here in Italy, in various dioceses, a safe place to rebuild their lives."
The refugees were welcomed at the airport by 20 Caritas volunteers and representatives of dioceses. They were tested for COVID-19 and their temperature was measured. They will be transferred to eight dioceses across Italy.
What are humanitarian corridors?
Humanitarian corridors allow private organizations -- mostly faith-based charities -- to transfer vulnerable refugees and migrants from crisis regions to Italy and to several other European countries. The state allows the refugees to enter the country; but their housing and assistance is financed and organized by private charities and communities.
The people who will be transferred are usually identified with the help of partner organizations in countries like Libya, such as the UNHCR.
The refugees are usually hosted in local communities and receive help from parish members.
"Over 1,000 people over the past few years were able to benefit from ... the reception system set up by Caritas, the organization said.
Prevent migrant deaths in the Mediterranean
One of the reasons that charities such as Caritas set up humanitarian corridors is the fact that they wish to give vulnerable refugees and migrants -- such as unaccompanied minors or sick children and their families -- the opportunity to reach Europe without having to attempt the dangerous Mediterranean boat crossing.
So far this year, at least 689 people have died or gone missing in attempts to reach Italy or Malta from Libya and Tunisia via the central Mediterranean route, according the Missing Migrants tracker run by UN migration agency IOM.