Sea Watch refugees in Malta, Protestant churches: “We realize that they will not arrive”

The case is closed, but Italy has to take steps in Europe to establish a “humanitarian corridor from Libya” and to obtain a formal reception agreement for those who continue to arrive by sea

Rome (NEV/CS22), April 16, 2019 – The president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), pastor Luca Maria Negro, and the moderator of the Waldensian Board, pastor Eugenio Bernardini, take note that the share of the refugees rescued last January by the Sea Watch NGO, first landed in Malta – who should have been hosted by the Waldensian Church – will not arrive in our Country.
Negro and Bernardini wrote a joint letter to Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, who, on January 10 last, announced that “approximately ten people” would arrive in Italy, welcomed in the structures of the Waldensian Church “without charges for the State”.
“But since then – the two protestant exponents communicate – nothing has happened. After three months of waiting, we believe that there have been agreements whereby the refugees, initially assigned to Italy, have actually remained in Malta. In recent months we have repeatedly stressed our willingness to take on the reception – Negro and Bernardini add -. Now we acknowledge that the case has found a different solution. We have formally communicated this to President Conte, taking the opportunity to encourage the Government to support the good practice of the “humanitarian corridors” and to re-launch it at European level to ensure a safe and legal access to asylum for the tens of thousands of refugees concentrated in Libya”.
The President of the Waldensian Diaconate, Giovanni Comba, expressed his “regret for the conclusion of the issue”, fearing that “in the absence of a clear agreement between the States of the European Union, migrants be considered pawns of exchange between the different countries and not people with rights”.
Since 2016, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, the Waldensian Board and the Community of St. Egidio have promoted a humanitarian corridor from Lebanon which, with the collaboration of the Waldensian Diaconate, has allowed safe and legal access to Italy to over 1600 refugees in serious vulnerability conditions. A similar initiative was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference and, in the wake of the Italian experiment, other humanitarian corridors were opened from Lebanon to France and Belgium.