VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis met with thousands of refugees and the charitable groups hosting them in Italy on Saturday as he seeks to promote legal migration routes to Europe as an alternative to the smuggling operations he says have transformed the Sea Mediterranean in a “cemetery. “
Francis said “humanitarian corridors,” which have been operating in Italy since 2016, have saved lives and helped newly arrived asylum seekers acclimate, while church groups have provided housing, education and job opportunities.
“Humanitarian corridors are not only aimed at bringing refugees to Italy and other European countries, rescuing them from situations of uncertainty, danger and interminable waiting; they also work for integration,” she said.
The Catholic charity of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian Church spearheaded the ecumenical humanitarian relocation initiative in Italy, which has brought more than 6,000 people to Europe, Francis was told.
As part of the programme, humanitarian operators identify asylum candidates in refugee camps and process the first paperwork to bring them to Italy for humanitarian reasons. Once they arrive, they receive assistance in settling down and applying for asylum.
Families from Syria, Afghanistan, Rwanda and Ukraine were in the Vatican auditorium to meet the pope.
“It was important for me to come here to show the world that humanitarian corridors are one of the most beautiful things this world has to offer for people who deserve it” safety and dignity, Oliver Chris I. Kabalisa, 22 from Rwanda, said . “Because as refugees, we don’t leave our country because we want to, but because we are forced, we are forced to.”
Afghan refugee Nazani Shakvulla said women in her country are suffering, have been banned from education, work and travel, and need help from the Vatican and charitable groups “to support humanitarian corridors and find a way to evacuate or find a way for girls in Afghanistan to get education.”
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