Pope greets refugees helped by way of Christian ‘corridors’


Pope Francis on Saturday greeted hundreds of refugees delivered to Europe by Christian charities, recognising their troublesome journeys and hailing their want to “live free from fear and insecurity”.

At the Paul VI corridor within the Vatican, the 86-year-old pontiff additionally thanked those that helped the refugees settle into their new lives, saying that “welcome is the first step towards peace”.

The viewers included lots of the 6,000 individuals who have been helped to Europe by way of “humanitarian corridors” run by Christian teams since 2016.

The scheme, initiated by the Catholic Sant’Egidio group in Italy and later prolonged to France and Belgium, entails folks from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Ukraine amongst others.

“I am happy to meet so many refugees and their families… each of you deserves attention for the hard history that you have lived,” Francis informed them.

“You have shown a firm will to live free from fear and insecurity.”

He paid specific tribute to those that survived grim circumstances in detention camps in Libya, the popular departure level for lots of the tens of hundreds of people that attempt to cross the Mediterranean into Europe every year.

– Limited routes –

The humanitarian corridors have been set as much as present a substitute for the lethal sea crossing, the place greater than 26,000 folks have misplaced their lives since 2014, in accordance with the United Nations.

Saturday’s occasion comes simply weeks after a migrant boat was shipwrecked off the southern coast of Italy, leaving not less than 87 folks useless.

In a replica of his speech issued by the Vatican, the pope referenced the catastrophe, saying “everything possible needs to be done to ensure that it will not be repeated”.

He delivered to the viewers, nevertheless, a a lot shorter model and didn’t point out the shipwreck.

Many migrants and asylum seekers flip to leaky, overcrowded boats as a result of authorized routes to Europe are restricted.

The variety of asylum claims in Europe in 2022 reached ranges final seen through the 2015-2016 refugee disaster, when greater than one million got here to the continent.

But the difficulty of who ought to take duty for the arrivals is a explanation for main pressure between member states.

– ‘A dream’ –

Under the hall scheme, the European governments concerned comply with difficulty visas, which the charities then use to convey over essentially the most susceptible — whether or not victims of persecution, households with youngsters, the aged or infirm.

When the refugees arrive, the charities present them with housing, language and abilities coaching, and assist them apply for asylum.

The first humanitarian hall opened was by way of Lebanon, with Italy providing visas to 1,000 Syrians who had fled there.

A Syrian lady named Anna spoke at Saturday’s occasion, describing her household’s journey from Aleppo to Lebanon after which Italy.

The scheme “seemed a dream, the possibility of living in peace”, she stated, earlier than being greeted by the pope.

Francis stated the corridors aimed to make sure “life, salvation and then dignity”.

About 5,000 of the refugees introduced in since 2016 are in Italy, the place the Italian Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian Church are additionally concerned.

Another 600 went to France, in accordance with Sant’Egidio.