Migration, humanitarian corridors, and the role of Europe in Africa’s development – these issues were the focus of today’s meeting between the delegation of the Community of Sant’Egidio and the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, before the latter was received in audience by Pope Francis. “It was a very positive meeting”, the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, told SIR news agency: “The President thanked the Community for the humanitarian corridors that were opened not just in Italy, Belgium and Andorra, but also in France. Most importantly, we had a long discussion on the issues of peace and development in Africa”. The Community of Sant’Egidio has set up a network of “Schools of Peace” in 30 African countries, offering literacy and peace education programmes to children and adolescents: “What does it mean to create a future for young Africans in Africa? That was the focus of the discussion”. However, there was no talk of the president not meeting with the Italian Government. “Since the President visited the Vatican”, Mr Impagliazzo explained, “and had a meeting with the Community of Sant’Egidio, which is an international community, we talked about how to address the migration issue in the future, always with a view to finding solutions at the European level. But we did not focus on relations between Italy and France. It was neither in our interest, nor in the president’s interest to do so”.
As regards the migration issue, the Community of Sant’Egidio proposed to President Macron “supporting the creation of legal channels in Europe, especially for those who are in need of humanitarian protection. This is our proposal on which we insist. We do not want to give lessons to anyone, but Europe will certainly have to find a solution to avoid further tragedies in the desert and in the sea”. As for diplomatic relations, Sant’Egidio would like “cooperation to be strengthened on peace-related issues; more specifically, the issues raised with President Macron included interreligious dialogue, the spirit of Assisi, and the role religions can play to promote equality in our societies”, even in light of the president’s “very important speech to the Conference of the French Bishops at the College des Bernardins on 9 April. This is what we are interested in: working all together, as many people and civil society institutions as possible, for peace and living together”.