Refugee families that arrived in Italy through  humanitarian corridors during an audience with Pope Francis Refugee families that arrived in Italy through humanitarian corridors during an audience with Pope Francis  (Vatican Media)

Afghan refugees to arrive in Italy though humanitarian corridor

The Community of St. Egidio is preparing to welcome a group of 22 Afghan refugees from Islamabad, offering a safe and legal entry to Italy to vulnerable people fleeing violence and persecution in their home country.

By Lisa Zengarini

On Thursday, 20 July, a group of 22 refugees from Afghanistan will arrive in Rome, as part of the Humanitarian Corridors initiative organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio and other Church organizations in agreement with the Italian government.  

The refugees come from an informal refugee camp in Islamabad, Pakistan, where they have been residing in precarious living conditions for nearly two years.

Fleeing Taliban violence in Afghanistan

They are amongst the tens of thousands of Afghan asylum seekers who have fled to Pakistan since the takeover of the Taliban regime in their country in August 2021.

Many are waiting for resettlement in other countries amid fears of deportation, as the brutal crackdown on women and ethnic and minorities in Afghanistan continues relentlessly.  

After landing at Rome's Fiumicino Airport, the refugees will be hosted in facilities in three Italian regions (Lazio, Liguria, Lombardy) where they will be integrated into Italian society and helped to become self-sufficient with the assistance of a programme that includes housing, legal aid, language classes, enrolment in schools for their children and help with employment.

They will be joined in the following days by another group of 20 refugees from Islamabad.

The Humanitarian Corridors project 

Humanitarian corridors are the result of an ecumenical collaboration between the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Italy and of Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior.

The project was born after the tragic death of over 300 migrants and refugees in a shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa in 2013.

Granting vulnerable people safe and legal entry to Europe

The corridors, which are entirely self-funded by the proposing organizations, aim to prevent perilous migrant journeys and the exploitation by human traffickers and to grant people in "vulnerable conditions" (victims of persecution, torture and violence, as well as families with children, elderly people, sick people, persons with disabilities) safe and legal entry on Italian soil through the necessary security controls by national authorities.

Pope Francis has endorsed the scheme, and on several occasions has called for concerted action to create extensive safe passages and offer protection and solidarity for migrants and asylum seekers.

So far, humanitarian corridors have allowed the safe arrival in Europe of over 6,300 refugees (5,400 of whom are hosted in Italy), including about 800 Afghans.

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18 July 2023, 15:39