Published: July 09, 2019
Lay group leader echoes pope's concern for Libyan migrants
This involves creating a European humanitarian corridor for 50,000 migrants over a two-year period, says Sant'Egidio president
The bombing of a migrant detention centre in Tripoli on July 2 caused the death of more than 50 people. (Photo by MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP)
The president of the Community of Sant'Egidio has applauded Pope Francis' call to create "humanitarian corridors" for migrants stranded in Libya.
The pope July 7 reacted to the recent bombing in Libya of a migrant detention center that killed 53 people.
"The international community cannot tolerate such serious events," the pope said after the Angelus' prayer in St. Peter's Square, calling for the organization of "humanitarian corridors" to help migrants in desperate need of help.
Marco Impagliazzo, president of the lay Catholic association dedicated to social service, said Francis' plea reflected his devotion to the cause of migrants and made him unique.
"This is not the first time he has called for the opening of a humanitarian corridor from Libya to Europe for the most vulnerable migrants.
"He is the only world leader who makes us think about the suffering of migrants in Libya. Some of these migrants' are physically scarred from the torture they have been subjected to, and women also tell how they were raped," said the Community of Sant'Egidio president.
Impagliazzo, whose group currently operates in 74 countries, said the migrants' plight required urgent attention.
"We estimate that 200,000 migrants are trapped in Libya and, together with the Italian Federation of Protestant Churches, we submitted a project to the Italian government two months ago," he said.
"This involves creating a European humanitarian corridor for 50,000 migrants over a two-year period, starting with the cooperation of Italy, France and Belgium.
"This would be a concrete alternative to human trafficking, human rights violations and the death journey they attempt crossing the Mediterranean."
The good news, he added, was that there were signs his group's pleas were being heard at last.
"Two weeks ago, we received a written reply from the President of the Council of Ministers, Giuseppe Conte," said Impagliazzo. "He confirms his 'interest' in this proposal. We will now turn to the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior to continue the project.
"At the same time, our Sant'Egidio communities in France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Portugal will make approaches to their respective ministries to advance the project in their own countries."
He said the mission to create humanitarian "corridors" was already bearing fruit.
"We have already opened two humanitarian corridors," said Impagliazzo, "one from Lebanon for Syrians and the other from Ethiopia for refugees from the Horn of Africa.
"The first involved 2,670 people, 500 of whom were received in France, 150 in Belgium and the rest in Italy. The second corridor allowed 500 Africans to arrive in Italy.
For these migrants residing in Europe, we take care of everything except, of course, security, i.e. whether or not a visa is issued, which is the responsibility of the host country.
"The selection of the most vulnerable refugees in the camps, transport and integration among Christians in Europe, are organized in collaboration with Caritas and the Italian Bishops' Conference. All this is at our expense."
Impagliazzo said current circumstances called for a greater financial commitment than ever.
"For this new corridor with Libya, we are changing scale," he said. "We will need the financial support of European countries but we are ready to work together. The expenses concern travel, of course, but above all requires migrants to be accepted across Europe, including accommodation and education."
Sant'Egidio is collaborating with other like Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), to identify migrants in most urgent need of assistance so visas can be issued to them as speedily as possible.
"European States have the right, provided for in the Schengen area, to issue visas in the name of humanitarian protection," Impagliazzo added. source