First Humanitarian Airlift for a Syrian Family to Italy

Rome, 5 February 2016 (NEV/CS08/ENG) – With a regularly scheduled flight arrived yesterday morning at Fiumicino Airport the first family to benefit of “humanitarian corridors”, the project of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), carried out with the cooperation of the Community of Sant’Egidio, in the framework of the Mediterranean Hope (MH) program. Provided with a visa for humanitarian reasons obtained by the Italian Embassy of Beirut, the Syrian family fleeing from Homs towards the North of Lebanon three years ago, was received at the Fiumicino Airport from the delegations of the two promoting organizations.

Satisfaction for the operation – the first of its kind in Europe – has been expressed by FCEI president, pastor Luca Negro: “Today we are writing an important page in the history of European reception of solidarity with refugees. With the arrival in perfect safety of the little girl Falak, dangerously ill, and of her family, FCEI and Sant’Egidio prove that the opening of humanitarian corridors to face the migratory crisis of these late months, is an efficient and sustainable tool which we hope may be used soon by other countries of the Schengen area. Today’s result in fact – concludes Negro – shows a model of ‘humanitarian sponsorship’ which saves refugees and asylum seekers from the criminal trafficking of smugglers and allows legal and controlled entrances to Italy”.

Among others, the FCEI vice-president Christiane Groeben and the FCEI counselor Maria Bonafede, Waldensian pastor and in charge of migrations issues, were in Fiumicino Airport to welcome the Syrian Al Hourani family, who was accompanied by the joint team of MH and Sant’Egidio which took care of them already in Lebanon. For the two children the MH welcoming team operators had prepared two schoolbags, one pink the other blue, packed with surprises.

The project is aimed at particularly vulnerable refugees in need of medical care, pregnant women, children, disabled persons. Mediterranean Hope is a project largely financed by the eight per thousand tax funds of the Waldensian Church (Union of Waldensian and Methodist churches). Among the supporters of the project are the Evangelical Church of Westphalia (EkvW), the Reformed Church in the United States, several Italian Protestant churches, and individual donors in Italy and abroad.