19th of June 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Eurodiaconia and Partners Call for the EU to Support the Development and Expansion of Humanitarian Corridors
On the occasion of World Refugee Day, Eurodiaconia, together with its members Diaconia Valdese (Italy), the Fédération de l’Entraide Protestante (France) and our other project partners – the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, Oxfam Italia, Confronti, Idos, Piedmont Region, and Safe Passage – are calling on the EU and national governments to ensure support for the development and expansion of Humanitarian Corridors (HC), which provide additional and durable solutions to international and humanitarian protection needs while also facilitating the social inclusion of its beneficiaries.
For many years, a growing number of asylum seekers have attempted to reach the EU by embarking on dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean Sea. The AMIF-funded project “Private Sponsorship for Integration: Building a European Model” is aimed at accompanying particularly vulnerable migrants in Lebanon via safe and legal pathways, towards their full and effective social, cultural and economic integration in EU societies, through the implementation of a wide range of pre-departure and post-arrival activities. The project seeks to incentivise the application of durable European integration practices within private sponsorship and other resettlement schemes.
Since the start of the humanitarian corridors project in 2016 in Italy and 2017 in France, 894 sponsored persons have been hosted and supported in their resettlement and integration by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, and 253 by the Fédération de l’Entraide Protestante (FEP) in France. The sponsored individuals and families are welcomed by a hosting network of staff and volunteers which provide guidance and support in their integration journeys through activities such as language training, employment assistance, education, and housing support, and through cultural, sporting, and social activities anchored in the hosting community.
What is unique about private sponsorship models like the HC is that they offer sponsored persons tailor-made settlement and integration support rooted in the local context, facilitating a smoother integration and creating welcoming communities. The experience of the project partners is that they ultimately help bring about more positive narratives of refugees and migrants and foster community and societal support for refugees.
As the touching story of Hanna Khoury, a Syrian refugee who fled the war in Syria demonstrates, the support offered through the humanitarian corridors and sponsoring organisations like Diaconia Valdese have helped him build a new life in Italy. A year after arriving he has learned to speak Italian, he is studying at the University of Turin and is giving back to his community through his work as a cultural mediator with Diaconia Valdese. He recently shared his story with Eurodiaconia in this video. Similarly, Mohamed al-Hassan is another Syrian refugee trained as a tailor who wanted to give back to his community by sewing face masks for Italians during the coronavirus pandemic. His story was recently featured in The Independent. As Hassan explained to The Independent, “This is my own way to thank the people that welcomed me in Sicily and, symbolically, Italy as a whole.”
As these stories and others featured in the project’s website demonstrate, in addition to EU and national support for integration frameworks, the involvement of hosting communities, faith-based organisations, and other service providers have been key in the long-term and sustainable integration of its beneficiaries.
To find out more about the project and recent activities, please visit the project’s website, or get in touch with Eurodiaconia.