A new humanitarian corridor between Italy and Ethiopia is to open soon.
This time, the initiative sees the direct involvement of the
Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), the Community of Sant’ Egidio, which
is among the main endorsers of the humanitarian corridor initiative and
two organisations linked to CEI, that work in the migration field:
Migrantes and Caritas.
They will play a key role in hosting refugees. A
new protocol is to be signed very soon by all of these organisations,
along with the ministries for interior and foreign affairs, based on the
existing model for welcoming Syrian refugees coming from transit camps
in Lebanon but with the additional participation of the Waldensian
Church and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy as well as
the Community of Sant’Egidio.
The ambitious aim is to establish a safe and legal corridor to allow
the passage of at least 500 African refugees into Italy. Ethiopia is the
African country bearing the brunt of the migration flow, as it takes in
the highest number of refugees fleeing conflict, famine, persecution
and environmental disasters.
The country is home to four large refugee
camps and the plan is to welcome people of three nationalities:
Eritreans, Somalis and people from South Sudan. The situation in these
countries is critical; naturally, once the protocol is agreed with the
Italian government, a complex organisation phase will follow: fruitful
communication and relationships will need to be established with
Ethiopian authorities, the government, the police and with the Ethiopian
agency that runs the refugee camps.
A similar collaboration was established with Lebanon – where the
domestic institutional framework was by no means simple – but in this
case, the situation was even more complex given how fragile the
institutions are and especially given the pressure from other
humanitarian crises and the conflicts underway across the entire
This is why contact has already been established
with organisations and personnel present on the ground. The Italian
Church has also played an important role in this and will be making a
substantial economic contribution. After all, most of the migrants
arriving in Italy hail from Eritrea and Somalia.
Humanitarian corridors have also been consolidated with Lebanon.
Another 100 refugees arrived in recent days, reaching a total of 500
people since the initiative was launched last December. Now it is
Ethiopia’s turn and the process for opening a Moroccan route still needs
to be completed. Meanwhile, humanitarian corridors are setting the
example on an international level: the UN, the European Parliament and
various countries look at the Italian model with keen interest.
a similar initiative is about to be launched in France, with the
Community of Sant’Egidio, Caritas France and the country’s evangelical
churches; in this case too, the focus is on Lebanon, which also hosts a
vast number of Syrian refugees (around 400,000 people). Interestingly,
as the Community of Sant’Egidio explains, “the initiative is mustering
consensus and an ever broader participation. Many associations, parishes
and local entities want to take part, even individual families. This is
a sign that the importance of the initiative has been understood.”
On the other hand, the need to create legal humanitarian channels to
manage the flow of refugees, with a view to putting an end to deaths at
sea and exploitation by human traffickers, has been felt for some time
now. The aim of the initiative is to combat the “trafficking” of people
fleeing wars, “to make it possible for people in vulnerable conditions
(as well as victims of persecution, torture and violence, there are
families with children, elderly, sick and disable people) to legally
enter Italian territory with a humanitarian visa and the chance to then
apply for asylum”; This way refugees can enter Italy in a way that is
safe for themselves and for everyone because in order for them to obtain
a humanitarian visa, they will have to undergo all necessary checks by