New humanitarian corridor from Lebanon

85 Syrians arrived this morning at Rome’s Fiumicino aiport; a further 20 will land on 28th March.  To be hosted in various Italian regions, specifically Tuscany, Piedmont, Lazio, Calabria and Sicily, by FCEI and the Waldensian Diaconate

Drawing by Francesco Piobbichi, staff, Mediterranean Hope programme, Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI)

By Agenzia NEV 25th March 2022 – Whilst the drama of the war in Ukraine is underway, humanitarian corridors continue to rescue refugee victims of another conflict which has lasted 11 years, namely, that in Syria.   A safe passage which appears all the more important now in the face of the current, grave international crisis.  This morning 85 Syrian refugees landed at Fiumicino on a flight from Beirut.  All have spent long years living in the refugee camps of the Bekaa Valley and northern Lebanon, and in recent months have suffered worsened living conditions not only as a result of the pandemic but also the very serious political, economic and social crisis affecting that country.

To that first group will be added a further 20 people, whose arrival is scheduled for 28th March, making a total 105. Amongst them, 38 minors: some sick children whose treatment in Lebanon could no longer be guaranteed, and young people who have been unable to attend school in recent years.  Before leaving, all refugees received the Covid 19 vaccine thanks to medical and nursing staff from the Ministry of Defence, operating in the country under the coordination of COVI (Inter-forces Operational Command).  Entry into Italy has been made possible through the humanitarian corridors established by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Board, in agreement with the Ministries of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs, which since 2016 have brought over 2,150 people safely to our country.  In total, more than 4,400 asylum seekers have reached Europe via humanitarian corridors.

The individuals and families arriving this morning will be hosted by associations, parishes, communities and private individuals in various Italian regions (Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Lazio, Sicily) and integration pathways will be activated: for minors, through immediate enrolment in schools and, for adults, through Italian language tuition followed, once refugee status has been granted, by support into work.  Humanitarian corridors, entirely self-funded (through Sant’Egidio appeals and the “8 per 1,000” tax allocation of the Waldensian Board) and implemented thanks to a widespread reception network, represent a best practice for all obliged to leave their homes in order to flee conflict, blending solidarity and safety.

Daniele Garrone, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) stated: “New crises and the opening of new fronts in no way lessen the consequences of other tragedies and nor do they lessen the need to support those seeking the chance of a new life or, survival.  That is the purpose of bringing these refugees from Syria here through the humanitarian corridors which remain active from Lebanon”.