Sant'Egidio founder Andrea Ricciardi
Sant’Egidio founder Andrea Ricciardi

The founder of Sant’Egidio and former Italian minister for international cooperation Andrea Ricciardi has just announced that Sant’Egidio and Papa Giovanni XXIII will be opening in the coming weeks two humanitarian corridors for refugees in Morocco and Lebanon. The announcement follows a proposal launched in April 2015 and required extensive negotiations with Italian, Moroccan and Lebanese authorities to come to fruition. Italy will issue humanitarian visa to enable refugees to travel via plane to Italy and the communities will take responsibility for settlement and integration activities. The religious communities will support logistically and financially the resettlement of up to to 2000 refugees through this scheme. To appreciate the significance of the initiative by two organisations that have a history of international cooperation and peace building as well as of supporting refugees and migrants in Europe, the UK government offered to resettle 20,000 refugees in 5 years, a commitment that is reluctantly and slowly implementing with a target of 1750 refugees in 2015. While there are some issues that deserve attention, particularly concerning the criteria for selection of the beneficiaries, it is certainly a very positive and potentially path breaking initiative that may succeed in lead by example, pushing other statutory and non-statutory actors along a similar route.