50 refugees from Niger safe in Italy thanks to a Humanitarian Corridor
By Linda Bordoni
Amongst the fifty refugees arriving in Rome on Friday, sixteen are children. They come from Niger, a vast and arid nation on the edge of the Sahara desert that continues to be plagued with political instability and increasing attacks by bandits on remote villages, schools, and seminaries.
According to the United Nations, Niger is one of the world’s least-developed nations, struggling in the wake of a series of coups, insurgencies, increasing droughts, and widespread poverty.
The humanitarian corridor bringing a few families to safety was organized by Italian Caritas in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Italian government, and the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
The refugees are welcomed, not only with the warmth of open-armed volunteers with smiles on their faces, but also with adequate housing facilities and the support of a process of integration. That means school for the children, Italian language classes for all, and help in putting in applying for work.
The Boeing 787 from Niamey to Rome was made available by the non-profit organization Solidaire, founded by Italo-Argentine pilot-turned-actor Enrique Piñeyro, who has declared his mission to provide logistical support to humanitarian missions by ensuring the safe arrival of refugees.
Humanitarian Corridors: a model for civilization
The Humanitarian Corridors is a project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelic Churches in Italy, the Waldensian Table, the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Caritas, as well as several French faith-based groups. It has become a concrete reality thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding signed with public authorities in Italy and France.
Pope Francis has reiterated his support for the project and called for it to become a model to be scaled up in order to protect the lives and dignity of migrants and refugees.
Since their first implementation in 2016, the Humanitarian Corridors have allowed for the safe arrival of hundreds of refugees, many of whom, have fled persecution and violence in Syria, Sudan, Central Africa, Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Yemen, and today Niger.