Luca Maria Negro: “Refugees dying in the sea is not an option”

Foto Paul Jeffrey / CEC - When he landed on the Greek island of Lesbos on October 30, 2015, Nabil Minas, a refugee from Syria, carried his children through the water and left them on the shore, then fell on his face and kissed the ground. A Christian, he crossed himself and covered his face with his hands, weeping with joy. The shore where he kneels is covered with the black rubber of deflated refugee boats. Minas and his family came in the boat from Turkey, paying an exorbitant amount to traffickers who provided the transport.
Rome, NEV/CEC, 20 June 2019 – Rev. Luca Maria Negro, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, has been instrumental in founding the Humanitarian Corridors programme, an ecumenical project for safe passages for migrants developed by the federation’s Mediterranean Hope team with the Comunità di Sant’Egidio in 2015. Humanitarian Corridors have since been opened in France, Belgium and Andorra for a total of nearly 3,000 arrivals in Europe.

On World Refugee Day, Negro reflected on how Humanitarian Corridors could become a global model for the future.

“We are pleased that we have already been able to export the Humanitarian Corridors model in other countries. We are still hoping that even more countries do the same,” he said.

At times, national governments seem to be working in a completely different direction when it comes to the rights of refugees, reflected Negro. In the past couple of months, the Federation of Protestant Churches has been able to engage in a dialogue about refugees with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

Negro, along with the Community of Sant’Egidio, is calling for the opening of a European humanitarian corridor for at least 2,500 refugees from Libya.

Negro also urged people to reconsider their perception of a border. “We cannot make sharp division saying it’s okay for Humanitarian Corridors to do their work, but at the same time saying we cannot rescue people who drown in the sea.

“You cannot say you are in favor of Humanitarian Corridors while, at the same time, deciding that the ports will be closed. Letting people die in the sea is not an option. We should be ashamed of that.”

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