Ninety-three asylum seekers from Libya landed today at Fiumicino Airport. After their arrival, they will be able to apply for refugee status, which will give them the right to protection.
The asylum seekers traveled on a charter fIight of the UNHCR, the United Nations Agency for Refugees. It is the first arrival implementing a protocol signed by the Interior Ministry and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the UNHCR, the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of the Evangelical Churches in Italy and Waldensian Board. The flights were organized according to a new mechanism the combines the best practices of emergency evacuations and humanitarian corridors. Established in 2016, the humanitarian corridors enabled 4,023 people to reach Europe, 3,313 of them in Italy.
This mechanism of humanitarian admissions, which also benefits from the collaboration of the National Institute for the promotion of the health of the migrant populations and the fight against the diseases of poverty, will affect 500 vulnerable people, including children, trafficked women who have survived violence and torture, and people in poor health, forced to flee their countries. Some are people who have been released from detention recently, while others were prisoners of the human trafficking networks.
The asylum seekers will be received by the Community of Sant’Egidio, FCEI and the Waldensian Board, and will follow the path of integration according to the model of the humanitarian corridors, with the exception of three unaccompanied foreign minors who, in view of their specific vulnerability, will be received in dedicated projects of the national reception system.
“The Interior Ministry is promoting this protocol that combines the successes of the Humanitarian Corridors with the procedures of evacuation carried out with positive results in past years, confirming Italy as the European model for legal access routes for refugees and vulnerable individuals”, said Michele di Bari, Head of the Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration. “It was a brilliant idea to join the skills of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to those of the Interior Ministry and the UNHCR, with the powerful thrust of solidarity provided by the organizations of civil society engaged in social welfare. We are delighted to be able to offer the incoming refugees an opportunity to arrive safely and with real hope for the future”.
“The Farnesina has supported humanitarian rescues and evacuations from Libya with conviction, in close contact with the authorities of that country”, points out Luigi Maria Vignali, Director General of Italians Abroad and Migratory Policies of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. “Once again, this is proof of the strong value added by our Embassy in Tripoli, and of the constant commitment of the Farnesina for the protection of refugees”.
“We are grateful to Italy for making these lifesaving operations possible for such vulnerable people. The Italian institutions and civilian society have shown once again the value of working together to receive and integrate the refugees.” said Chiara Cardoletti, Representative of the UNHCR for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino. “Conditions in Libya remain terrible for people trying to flee that country, and we hope the example and the success of the Italian initiative will be followed soon by other countries”.
“The nightmare of injustice and violence of the detention camps is finally over for these people, and a different future awaits them, one that will respect their human rights”, declared Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio. “We are happy to receive them and start them on the path to integration that we have already established for the humanitarian corridors. It is a strong message for the rest of Europe, until now acting piecemeal and often deaf to a situation like that of immigration, which must be dealt with urgently, and at the same time with the necessary humanity”.
“Following the consolidated experience of the humanitarian corridors, our religious organizations are ready to receive and support these men, women and children who have survived terrible experiences in their most basic needs of dignity and full human and social inclusion. It is a commitment to solidarity sharing a vision of a Europe that does not raise walls of indifference or selfishness against the horrors of the wars, exploitation and grave injustices that have lacerated the lives and hopes of a life of dignity for too many human beings”, declared Alessandra Trotta, moderator of the Waldensian Board.
“The experience of the INMP from 2017 in providing healthcare on arrival for people coming from Libya through the corridors of evacuation organized by the Interior Ministry and the UNHCR is now included in a program of collaboration involving a broader perspective between the public system and private organizations that does honor to a great country like Italy, always close to the vulnerable and those who flee from war”, said Concetta Mirisola, General Director of INMP.
“Today, the most important thing is that these people have managed to escape the Libyan lagers. The humanitarian corridors are the first step in a much larger system, one element of a reception system that places solidarity at the center, and which should be shared by all of Europe. As protestant churches, in Lampedusa, we assist people who have fled Libya. They risk losing their lives after enduring unspeakable violence: it must never happen again”, declares Daniele Garrone, President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy.
Since 2017, the UNHCR has evacuated or resettled 6,919 refugees and asylum seekers from Libya, 967 of them in Italy. Evacuations resumed this month after a year of interruption when the Libyan authorities revoked the prohibition of humanitarian flights.
These regular, safe channels are a godsend for the refugees, permitting them to build a future in dignity without being forced to undertake hazardous voyages, often having to trust their lives to unscrupulous traffickers. At the same time, they are also a tangible sign of solidarity from the countries that give hospitality to the largest population of refugees.