Separated by war in Syria, they are reunited in Italy thanks to the humanitarian corridors. The story of a family from Alep

April 5 2022

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Even if the tragedy of Ukraine-Russia war is not ceasing, the humanitarian corridors are still open in order to save the Syrian refugees in Lebanon: the story of a family from Alep, reunited few days ago in Italy, shows the complexity of the solidarity actions in the present world scenario.

Aissa used to live in Alep with his wife Mariam and their three children. In 2016, after some weeks spent in an underground shelter under the continuous bombardments, they managed to flee, going through the ruins of the city, and fortuitously reached Lebanon.
But even there, life was not easy: the children could not go to school; they all lived in a precarious condition. So, after five years, they decided to try the crossing from Lebanon to Cyprus and reach Europe. But the rubber dinghy on which they were sailing, along with seventy other refugees, was intercepted by the Cypriot police. For forty-eight hours they remained blocked offshore in a dangerous situation.
The third day, Aissa, exhausted and unhealthy, had to be taken to a hospital in Cyprus. The rest of the family was rejected and sent back to Lebanon. Without IDs and with a deportation order, Mariam and her children were hidden in a garage by a good Lebanese woman who also ran some risks for that.
Last December Aissa met Maria and other members of the Community of Sant’Egidio, who were accompanying Pope Francis in his visit to Cyprus. Such a meeting gave Aissa and his family a new hope. He was among the people who arrived in Italy after the Pope’s visit through a special humanitarian corridor. A gesture which expressed the Pope’s personal concern for the situation of the refugees.
That was the first step towards the reunion of the family. Mariam and the children were found in Lebanon by the members of the Community and their names were added in the list for the next flight to Rome of the humanitarian corridor. The departure was due in January 2022. But the flight was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The journey was possible just few days ago.
Together again, at last!
It seems to be a modern Odyssey. And in fact, so it was. And so is the situation of many refugees.
In this case, thanks to the humanitarian corridors the story had a happy end: a family eventually reunited and welcomed in a country far from the war.

Since February 2016, 2,150 asylum seekers have been rescued and welcomed in Italy. Altogether 4,400 people have been sheltered in Europe. That was possible thanks to the humanitarian corridors, a project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio in cooperation with other partners to allow the more vulnerable refugees to reach their destinations travelling safely. Which is a best practice that combines solidarity and security.