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World News \ Middle East

Humanitarian corridor to Rome brings hope to Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees cross a bridge above al-Ghazil river filled with garbage in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon November 24, 2016 - REUTERS

Syrian refugees cross a bridge above al-Ghazil river filled with garbage in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon November 24, 2016 - REUTERS

01/12/2016 13:24

(Vatican Radio) One hundred Syrian refugees from Lebanon are set to arrive at Fiumincino Airport in Rome on 2 December through a special “humanitarian corridor” programme, bringing the total intake to five-hundred refugees since the start of the project.

Humanitarian corridors are a pilot project and the first of its kind in Europe. The corridors will allow the entry of over 1,000 refugees into Italy over a two-year period. They are the result of an ecumenical collaboration between Catholics and Protestants: the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches, the Waldensian and Methodist Churches. The project is completely self-funded by the founding organizations.

The corridors provide safe routes to those seeking asylum, helping them avoid dangerous journeys by boat across the  Mediterranean, in which thousands of people have died.

Providing legal entry onto Italian soil with a humanitarian visa allows refugees to apply for asylum. Entrance via corridor is granted to people in vulnerable positions such as victims of persecution, families with children, elderly people, sick people, single women, and people with disabilities.

Once the refugees arrive in Italy, they are received by various religious organizations: the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and ‘Tavola Valdese’.  These are then responsible for their accommodations and economic aid while filing for international protection. The refugees are offered integration into Italian society, through learning of the language, schooling for children, and other opportunities.

During his Angelus on 6 March 2016, Pope Francis welcomed the humanitarian corridors and called them a concrete sign of commitment to peace and life. He added that he hopes this initiative will spread to other countries, and “it is the drop that will change the sea.”

01/12/2016 13:24