Three hundred refugees from Afghanistan rescued thanks to a wide collaboration among civil society organizations

217 Afghani refugees, who were sheltered in Pakistan since August 2021, arrived on Wednesday 27 July with a flight from Islamabad. Their entry into Italy has been made possible thanks to the Memorandum of Understandingwith the Italian State, signed on 4 November 2021, by the Community ofSant’Egidio, the Federation of the Protestant Churches in Italy, the Waldensian Board, ARCI, Caritas Italiana, IOM, INMP, and UNHCR.

Together with the others arrived from Iran on 25 and 28 July, the Afghani refugees sheltered in Italy are more than three hundred and they will be welcomed in many regions from South to North, thanks to the Humanitarian Corridors. That is a project entirely paid by the organizations involved, made possible thanks to the generosity, unpaid commitment and volunteering of many Italian citizens, who opened their homes to welcome the migrants, as well as to religious congregations, NGOs, and several civil society associations. Among them Solidaire, which in cooperation with Open Arms, contributed to the organization of the flight from Pakistan.

On 27 June, on the occasion of the welcome of the refugees, a press conference took place. Marina Sereni, vice minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio; Daniele Garrone, President of the Federation of the ProtestantChurches in Italy; Alessandra Trotta, Moderator of the Waldensian Board; Filippo Miraglia, national immigration coordinator of ARCI; and Valentina Brinis, Open Arms, took part to the press conference. (WATCH THE VIDEO)

«The Italian Government has made a pledge not to abandon the Afghani people», the vice minister Marina Sereni stated. «The humanitarian situation is really serious, particularly for women and young girls, who are not allowed to go back to school. We cannot let the Afghani children be deprived of their future. The Italian Government will go on, along with his partners and the international agencies, providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. We have a duty to welcome those who will come to Italy thanks to Humanitarian Corridors, which are fruit of the civil society’s commitment. The latter has mobilized and, with the collaboration of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of the Interior, has accomplished this first arrival.

«We didn’t forget the sufferings of the Afghani People! Today a promise is fulfilled for three hundred refugees: the promise not to abandon them after the Talibans have taken back the power last August», Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio, stated. «We are happy to welcome them – he went on saying – and, with them, to start the well-tried integration pathway of the Humanitarian Corridors. These people will be sheltered in various towns, by our Communities as well as by religious congregations which opened the doors of their houses. While millions of people who flee from wars, famine, and climate changes are no longer under the spotlight or become object of political opportunism, Italy shows its humane and welcoming face, thanks to the Humanitarian Corridors and the virtuous synergy between civil society and institutions».

Daniele Garrone, President of the Federation of the Protestant Churches in Italy, and Alessandra Trotta, Moderator of the Waldensian Board, said: «Protestants are also welcoming with joy the beneficiaries of this Humanitarian Corridor.  We have never forgotten them. Their arrival today is the fruit of a joint commitment by organisations and institutions who have worked together to develop and expand the good practice of Humanitarian Corridors which was inaugurated in 2016 and, since that time, was proposed to European institutions as a structural policy for managing migration».

Filippo Miraglia, national immigration coordinator for ARCI stated: «ARCI is extremely satisfied to participate for the first time in Humanitarian Corridors. If these people arriving today by plane, generously welcomed by us and by Italy, had set off on their own to seek protection and had arrived at EU borders – resorting to using traffickers as 99% of those fleeing are obliged to do – we would contemptuously call them “clandestine” and they would risk ending up in the Libyan detention camps, – supported by Europe and our Government – or pushed back to our land borders, as happens every day, violating every law and international convention. For this reason, we want to support and invest in every form of safe and legal pathway such as Humanitarian Corridors, also to show that alternatives exist».

For Enrique Piñeyro, President of the NGO Solidaire: «This journey is worth a great deal to us because we are accompanying people who want to flee the place they live because they are in danger there.  Between forced marriage, the impossibility of studying or leaving the house alone, Afghan women are living in inhumane conditions. Being able to help them live a normal life is extremely rewarding».

Oscar Camps, founder of Open Arms, declared: «I could never have imagined (certainly not in 2015, when we began rescuing people who were fleeing the war in Syria by crossing the Aegean Sea) that today I would have found myself at Islamabad airport collaborating to the making of a Humanitarian Corridor which would take Afghan women and girls to safety, in this case to Italy. This has been made possible thanks to collaboration with many organisations and thanks to the aeroplane made available by the NGO Solidaire.  For us, used to rescuing at sea in difficult conditions, it is a matter of pride to be able to evacuate these people through safe and legal channels.  We will continue to be present at sea, but it is also important to try to avoid unnecessary suffering, by facilitating these Humanitarian Corridors in every way possible. Open Arms and Solidaire will continue to do whenever possible».




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