97 people: women, men, and children, who fled Afghanistan, landed this morning at Rome Fiumicino Airport from Islamabad in Pakistan. Daniele Garrone, president of FCEI says: “Welcoming them is a privilege for us. Our thoughts go out to the people who remain in the country. It is important that Europe welcomes other people in danger through humanitarian corridors ,using all the other tools available and, at the same time, works to restore peace and rights for the Afghan people.”

Rome (NEV), 23th February 2023 – A group of 97 Afghan refugees arrived from Pakistan as part of the Humanitarian Corridors program administered by Caritas Italiana (on behalf of the CEI – Italian Bishops’ Conference), FCEI (Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy), the Waldensian Board and the Community of Sant’Egidio.

This latest arrival is made possible thanks to protocols signed with the Italian government in November 2021. A total of 1,200 people have fled Afghanistan and have been welcomed in Italy by churches and civil society.

The Afghan citizens who have arrived will be hosted in various dioceses, churches, and communitie from the North to South of Italy, especially in Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Lombardy, Piedmont, Tuscany, Lazio, Puglia and Calabria. They are families and individuals, some of whom will be reunited in Italy with relatives who have already lived in our country for some time.

The humanitarian corridors have guaranteed asylum seekers, refugees and other vulnerable people the gateway from wars and human rights’ violations, otherwise, they would have never been able to reach European territory.

Don Marco Pagniello, director of Caritas Italiana, explains that “beyond the type of intervention insured (Humanitarian Corridors, University Corridors, humanitarian evacuations, emergency reception), Caritas’ commitment was to create a welcoming and integration system inside these communities. From the very beginning , families, parishes and religious institutes have guaranteed their assistance to those who have arrived in our country.” This was possible thanks to the APRI project (from the Pope’s four verbs “Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate”) which allowed us to face these challenges effectively and adequately , to raise awareness among the communities on the real value of hospitality. Involving the neighbourhoods and communities – the director of Caritas Italiana continues- means providing citizens with the tools to understand and support a complex phenomenon such as migration, without suffering from it. Thus helping to change its perception and, therefore, the narrative: the migrant is not a stranger who enters our home anymore, but a fragile person with a name and history who deserves consideration as well as respect.”

Daniele Garrone, president of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, declares: “Today we welcome these Afghan families; women, men, and children who leave behind a country where their rights are trampled on every day. They will have the chance to rebuild their lives in Italy, in Europe. It is a privilege for us to support them on this journey. We hope, in the light of this emergency that unfortunately continues to exist, to be able to continue to welcome refugees as we are ready to do.. We confirm our commitment. ” And he adds: “At the same time, we believe that the international community must take responsibility for what is happening in Afghanistan, especially the violations of human rights for women and girls. The denial of the right to education, which we read every day in the news, is intolerable. Our thoughts go out to the people left in that country. We believe it is important for Europe to welcome other people in danger, through humanitarian corridors , using all the other tools available, and ,at the same time, work to restore peace and rights for the Afghan population”.

“In a time of blindness of wars and their tragic consequences, we have not forgotten the suffering of Afghan citizens”, declares the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo. “Today, for many families a new life begins, a safe life in Italy, thanks to the humanitarian corridors. It is the result of successful cooperation between institutions and civil society which shows it is possible to save human lives, to welcome and integrate them. With today’s arrival, the reception quota established for Sant’Egidio in the protocol signed on 4th November 2021 with the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, is finished. Our community is ready to welcome other people and we hope that the institutions will extend this protocol, in order to respond to the suffering, in particular, of many Afghan women”.