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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the Mama Sofia Foundation: launch of the call for scholarship applications in memory of Ambassador Luca Attanasio

ROME – 22 February 2023 – Today, two years after the tragic killing of Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio, who lost his life in an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo, together with Carabiniere Vittorio Iacovacci and their driver Mustapha Milambo, the Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ettore Francesco Sequi attended the event launching the “Luca Attanasio” call for scholarships applications promoted by the Mama Sofia Foundation, together with representatives of the administrations concerned: Carmela Palumbo, Head of the Department for the Education and Training System of the Ministry of Education and Merit and Gianluigi Consoli, Director General for Internationalisation and Communication of the Italian Ministry of University and Research. The Italian Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Alberto Petrangeli, and Zakia Seddiki Attanasio also participated via video conference from Kinshasa.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Education and Merit and the Ministry of University and Research, the Mama Sofia Foundation will offer 43 scholarships for enrolment in a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree course at eCampus University and as many qualifying Italian courses.

Ambassador Sequi explained that the project – presented in December 2022 on the occasion of the 15th Conference of Italian Ambassadors Worldwide in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani – is “part of the Ministry’s effort to attract foreign talent to Italy and to promote the Italian educational model abroad. This also aims to consolidate mutually beneficial cooperation relations with countries in the South of the world and support the local development of the younger generations. All this is also the fruit of the moral and spiritual legacy of Luca, whose commitment to serving our country and the foreign communities he met has given tomorrow’s diplomats the highest example of dedication to the State and loyalty to the noblest ideals and human values”.

According to Zakia Seddiki Attanasio, “Luca’s legacy is a model for young people, for he carried on his ideals of peace, justice and solidarity between peoples with humanity and simplicity. These same ideals are at the basis of the project to award 43 scholarships in the Italian language to as many students from 12 nations, thus giving them the chance to realise their dreams. For the second anniversary of his death, I decided to return to Congo, where the tragedy took place, but also where my husband and I created a strong human relationship with children and women in difficulty, with the aim of giving a message of continuity. From here, I send my heartfelt sympathy and thoughts to the people affected by the conflict in Ukraine and to the many people whose lives have been plagued by all forms of aggression in Africa, the Middle East and Asia: to remain indifferent is to be complicit with those who have provoked such injustice. I hope that in the not too distant future, war will cease to be considered a solution or a means to victory since it begins and ends, always, as a defeat”.

The Head of the Department for the Education and Training System of the Ministry of Education and Merit, Carmela Palumbo, stressed that “education is a formidable tool, perhaps the most powerful, to combat poverty and violence” and “to guarantee concrete future prospects for young people, especially the most disadvantaged”. Quoting an African proverb, she also stated that “it takes a village to raise a child and to accompany him into adulthood. This means that in order for young people around the world to develop their full potential, an alliance and shared responsibility between communities and institutions is increasingly necessary,” as was made very clear by Ambassador Attanasio.

Gianluigi Consoli, Director General for Internationalisation and Communication of the Ministry of Universities and Research, stated that “Ambassador Attanasio was a man who every day saw an opportunity around him to help people. A man who considered his work as a service to the country that hosted him, as well as to Italy. The scholarships, named in his memory, will give young students the opportunity to consolidate their knowledge within the Italian higher education system in order to build their professional career. This will be the finest tribute to the humanity and dedication to people that characterised Ambassador Attanasio’s work”.

The Director General of eCampus University, Alfonso Lovito, declared that “Italy is known for its history, art and culture, but also for its academic excellence. Through this initiative we will be able to provide access to our academic resources to students who otherwise would not have had such an opportunity. These scholarships have an important symbolic meaning for us, as they are dedicated to Luca Attanasio, a proud representative of Italian institutions and a great example for our young generations. We are confident that this experience will have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of the students and will help them create the future they desire”.

According to Placido Bramanti, President of Vexavit Italia, “Supporting this project is an opportunity to concretely demonstrate our commitment to being a company at the service of people, not only through the innovative technologies we develop but also through our support for projects of high social value. Vexavit was founded in Switzerland, the same country in which Luca Attanasio took the first steps of his brilliant diplomatic career. This gives us all the more reason to be close to the Mama Sofia Foundation, which carries on Luca’s moral legacy and values”.

The event, held in the Attanasio Room at the Farnesina, was also attended by Carlo Lo Cascio, Deputy Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Lidia Dimasi, Head of Institutional Relations of ANPIT (National Association for Industry and the Service Sector), and other representatives of the Mama Sofia Foundation and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The event is part of a series of initiatives organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to commemorate Ambassador Attanasio.

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