Pope Francis on Saturday (March 18) welcomed thousands of refugees brought to Europe by Christian organizations through humanitarian corridors, acknowledging their wish to “live free
from fear and insecurity
During an audience at the Paul VI hall in the Vatican, the 86-year-old pope thanked the organizations that had helped the refugees, stressing that the reception represents “the
first step towards peace
Many refugees have been received among the 6,000 who have been able to reach Europe thanks to "
" set up by Christian organizations since 2016.
“A firm will to live free from fear and insecurity”
This system, initiated by the Catholic community Sant'Egidio in Italy then taken up in France and Belgium, concerned refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Ukraine. .
Each of you deserves attention for the difficult history you have lived
,” the pope told the refugees.
You have shown a firm will to live free from fear and insecurity
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François notably paid tribute to the survivors of the very harsh living conditions in the detention camps in Libya, the preferred place of departure for the tens of thousands of migrants who attempt the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean every year to reach Europe.
The humanitarian corridors were set up to offer an alternative to the dangerous journeys by sea, which claim the lives of thousands of people every year, and the possibility of legal entry into Europe through the granting of humanitarian visas. .
"It was like a dream"
The European governments involved in the scheme issue visas for humanitarian purposes which NGOs use to legally transport the most vulnerable, families with children, victims of persecution, elderly or sick people.
On their arrival, the refugees are taken care of by the associations - accommodation, language learning, professional training - which help them to submit their asylum application.
The first humanitarian corridor had been set up in Lebanon, with the granting by the Italian government of visas to a thousand Syrians who had taken refuge there.
A Syrian, Anna, described on Saturday the trip of her family from Aleppo (Syria) to Lebanon, then to Italy.
It was like a dream, the possibility of living in peace
,” she said.
More than 5,000 refugees have arrived in Italy since 2016 thanks to this system, managed by the Sant'Edigio community, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Church.
Some 600 more have arrived in France, according to Sant'Egidio.