A Group of Syrian refugees arrive at Rome Fiumicino Airport, thanks to humanitarian corridors. ANSA/ MICHELAA SUGLIA
A Group of Syrian refugees arrive at Rome Fiumicino Airport, thanks to humanitarian corridors. ANSA/ MICHELAA SUGLIA

Humanitarian corridors to bring refugees to Europe safely are being used for Africans and not only Syrians now. On Thursday, the first 25 refugees are expected to arrive in Rome from Ethiopia out of a total of 500 planned.

 About a thousand Syrians had previously arrived and a new protocol calls for another thousand arrivals between 2018 and 2019. Humanitarian corridors are now being used to bring African refugees to Italy and not only Syrian ones. On Thursday, November 30, the first 25 Ethiopians will be arriving in Rome as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian state, signed by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) - which acts through the Italian branch of Caritas and Fondazione Migrantes - and the Community of Sant'Egidio.

 The protocol calls for the transfer from Ethiopia of 500 refugees over two years and is financed through funds made available from CEI's '8xmille', an amount of personal income taxes that Italian taxpayers can choose to devolve to the state for social purposes or to religious institutions. The first family units and their relatives already in Italy will be hosted by the Ventimiglia branch of Caritas in Liguria, the one in the Sicilian city of Ragusa and by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome. The families will be lodged by parishes, families and religious institutes in private apartments. They will be assigned to Italian 'tutor' families that will accompany them as they integrate socially and into the labor market, ensuring them have access to services, Italian language courses and proper medical care.

Reception based on families and parishes

The humanitarian corridors are an entirely self-financed pilot project by the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Evangelical Church. Its main aims include preventing risky journeys across the Mediterranean and exploitation by human traffickers and enabling those in ''conditions of vulnerability'' (such as victims of persecution, torture and violence as well as families with children, the elderly, the ill and the disabled) to enter Italy legally with a visa for humanitarian reasons, with the possibility to later file an asylum request. The process is safe for all including those doing the welcoming, since Italian authorities conduct all necessary checks before granting humanitarian visas. Once in Italy, the lodgings of the refugees are paid for by the associations listed above. ''We teach them Italian,'' the Community of Sant'Egidio notes on its website, and ''we enroll their children in school to foster integration in our country and to help them to search for a job.'' Since February 2016, about a thousand Syrians fleeing the war have arrived in Italy via these humanitarian corridors, passing through Lebanon. Another agreement was signed in recent days with the interior and foreign ministries for the continuing of the project. Some 1,000 more beneficiaries will reach Italy between 2018 and 2019 with the involvement of the Community of Sant'Egidio and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy.         

 

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