“We reassure our own and European populists: it’s not an invasion. We are sure there’s room in our country as much as in the rest of Europe to take them in everywhere, in many places where immigrants are not felt as a threat, but as an asset, instead”. This is the comment made by Luca Negro, president of the Federation of Italian Evangelical Churches (Fcei), about the initiative of the humanitarian corridors that, under an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, enabled Comunità di sant’Egidio, the Waldensian Church and Fcei to take in 700 refugees from Syria so far, the most vulnerable ones chosen in Lebanon’s camps. The initiative celebrates its first anniversary, and pastor Negro quotes Psalm 26 to honour this anniversary: “When the Lord brought back the exiles, it was like a dream”. “We could paraphrase that. Exactly one year ago, when the first group of Syrian refugees arrived through the humanitarian corridor, we thought a dream that we had very stubbornly pursued was coming true”.
Today, it is the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mario Giro, who expresses “the wish” to “extend” that experience, pointing out that, under the agreement, nother 300 people are expected to arrive (to make up the agreed total amount of one thousand people), and another 500 people will come to Italy from the Horn of Africa under an agreement with Comunità di Sant’Egidio and the Italian Bishops Conference. “When you make a humanitarian corridor – the deputy Minister explains –, you must be sure those people know where they are going and the hosts know where these people come from. It is a complex chain that is made, and you need to have all the resources to make it”, both outwards (based on the refugee selection criteria) and inwards (through a complex accommodation and reception system involving the families, parishes and associations). “We are – Giro adds – just trying this out. When the tests are over, we will reflect about it”.
The undersecretary of the Interior, Domenico Manzione, said to the refugees landed in Fiumicino: “This is an important day for you and for your children, because, through the humanitarian corridors, you have managed to safely come here. This is an example of a safe way that is going to be followed by other countries as well. An example that can save more human lives”.