The following is an excerpt from NICOLE WINFIELD AND TRISHA THOMAS | January 30, 2017 | abcnews.go.com |
Italian government and church officials welcomed 41 Syrian refugees at Rome's airport Monday, saying they wanted to show solidarity with those fleeing war at a time when the U.S. is sending refugees away and building a wall to keep migrants out.
The children among the Syrians were given balloons as they arrived, and a colorful sign reading "Welcome to Italy" greeted them and their parents in the airport terminal. They were the latest group of refugees to be resettled in Italy via a "humanitarian corridor" agreement between the Italian government and a Catholic-Protestant collaborative project.
"At a moment in time where they're building walls in other parts of the world, we are making bridges and bringing by air those who have the right to come to arrive in security," said the vice prefect of the interior ministry, Donatella Candura.
The airlift was organized by the Sant'Egidio Community and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, an ecumenical collaboration that has resettled some 540 people in Italy in the past year as an alternative to the deadly sea crossings most migrants make to try to get to Italy at the hands of smugglers.
Aid workers identify refugees in Lebanon and arrange for visas via the Italian embassy. Once in Italy, the churches take charge of finding the refugees housing, schooling and other immediate services to help them integrate into Italian society.
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