A new humanitarian corridor for Afghan refugees now being prepared in Pakistan

Looking forward to flying the first humanitarian corridor for Afghans, a delegation of Sant'Egidio went to Lahore and Islamabad to meet, together with the Communities of Pakistan, Afghan refugees.

These were days of intense meetings with many refugees whom we have followed from a distance over these months - from the fall of Kabul to their arrival in neighbouring countries. There are high expectations for the humanitarian corridors.
Since last November, the families selected for the first trip have been meeting every afternoon for an online Italian lesson with a teacher of the language and culture school in Rome. Some greeted us in Italian! A commitment, that of the school, that gives hope and strength to go on in a moment of great suffering and, often, of despair.
Refugees from different ethnic groups have fled to Pakistan. All of them united by hunger, injustice and constant violence. There are Hazaras, Tajiks but also Pashtuns who oppose the current regime. They are also fleeing the ongoing war between the Taliban and Isis-Khorasan militiamen that has recently caused so many deaths.
Nevertheless, life for Afghan refugees in Pakistan is not easy. The UNHCR reports 1.4 million asylum seekers, many more Afghans actually reside there. Three hundred thousand have crossed the border from Afghanistan since August alone.
In addition to the institutional meetings to open the first flight of the corridors, we accompanied some people of the Community in Islamabad during their service to refugees. We met a group of Afghans who have been living in Pakistan for years, without identity or rights: the children have never been to school. There were also Syrian refugees begging in the streets.
Entire families gather every night in a slum near a kebab seller's stall in a modern, armoured city, just to hope for food. Before Sant'Egidio started the evening meal distribution, people used to throw bread at the refugees from their car windows. The situation has now changed: Sant'Egidio's style has shown that we can help in a more human way. Soon the children will be registered for school. It is an important service because Afghan refugees from the old and the new generation are not well tolerated.
A programme of support for the refugees who have recently fled Afghanistan will also begin shortly for the transit period in Pakistan, pending the departure of the Corridors. Afghan children will be able to attend the School of Peace and their parents will receive food parcels in the Christian quarter, .