A Catholic charity in Italy, the Community of Sant’Egidio, has announced the arrival of the first group of Afghans via a 'humanitarian corridor'. The corridors were announced at the beginning of November.
Marco Impagliazzo, the head of the Community of Sant’Egidio, announced on Thursday, December 9, that the first Afghans had arrived in Italy via a humanitarian corridor. Some of the group of 12 have landed and the others are on their way, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.
In addition, 93 people arrived through a corridor direct from the detention camps in Libya. Impagliazzo said this was "wonderful news, particularly for those who are suffering the most. We know all about the disastrous conditions and the inhumanity of the Libyan camps."
The corridors were opened up again on November 4 in collaboration with a group of humanitarian and religious organizations including the Protestant Church and the Italian Bishops Conference, the Italian foreign office, the interior ministry and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
The interior ministry has undertaken to pay the travel costs of those who are accepted on the humanitarian corridor. The foreign ministry will provide visas for Italy.
Once in Italy, 400 of those with recognized refugee status will be eligible to take part in an integration program run by the interior ministry. The other 800 will be supported by various humanitarian and religious associations and helped to integrate whilst their asylum documents are prepared.
Impagliazzo said that it was like a "Christmas present for those Afghans who had managed to cross the borders of their country into Iran or Pakistan and who today would be welcomed in Italy."
The latest humanitarian corridors to have been activated, according to the regional Italian online portal Il Dolomiti, will enable provinces like Trento in the northern mountainous region around the Dolomites to welcome families from Syria and Afghanistan.
Green light in Trentino
The President of the Trento region, Maurizio Fugatti, a member of the League party (La Lega), gave the green light to the project on December 6, Il Dolomiti reported. The region is preparing to offer about 20 places to families between January 2022 and the end of December 2023.
Most of the Syrians will arrive via a humanitarian corridor from Lebanon that was first activated in 2016, reported Il Dolomiti. So far the region has welcomed one family with six members from Syria.
More recently, eight Syrians from three related families arrived. They are currently in mandatory quarantine, reported Il Dolomiti on Monday. For the Afghan citizens, the Trentino region will be prioritizing women and children. 1,200 people are expected to arrive in Italy over the next two years.
Corridors due to run for at least two years
Trentino has already welcomed around 100 Afghan citizens who were evacuated over the summer as part of the operation Aquila Omnia. They underwent COVID-19 quarantine in Trentino before being transferred to various other regions in Italy.
According to the announcement of the humanitarian corridors on November 4, the majority of the Afghans qualifying for the corridor have already made it to either Iran, Pakistan or other transit countries, where were granted temporary asylum before being transferred to Italy.
These particular corridors are expected to remain open for two years, but could be extended for an additional year to welcome further refugees if needed. KNA reports that the Community of Sant'Egidio also said it would be supporting the 50 people who had been chosen as a contingent during the Pope's visit to Cyprus last week.