A coalition of Protestant and Catholic organisations has reached an agreement with the Italian government to provide travel and integration services for refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. The government will provide humanitarian visas to ensure the right to take up residence; the visas will not allow passage to other countries in the European Union. Christian agencies will furnish airline tickets to Italy as well as accommodation, assistance with asylum procedures, educational opportunities and Italian language courses.
The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and Sant’Egidio, the Catholic lay movement, will open assistance offices in Morocco and Lebanon, with the future possibility of a third office in Ethiopia. The first arrivals in Italy are expected at the end of January 2016.
‘This admirable agreement is an essential early step in addressing the humanitarian crisis facing many places in the world,’ said Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). ‘It is a model for churches, related faith-based organisations, governments and the international community to act together in the interest of humanity. It has been undertaken with a deep respect for the dignity of all, the safety of all, and our common interest in the realisation of justice and peace on earth.’
For full details see the WCC website.