Italy welcomes first refugees since lockdown through humanitarian corridor

Rome, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- Italy welcomed a group of refugees into the country on Thursday, the first to travel through a humanitarian corridor since borders were closed due to the pandemic.

Ten people arrived in the Mediterranean country from Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos.

The humanitarian corridor initiative was organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio,  a lay Catholic association dedicated to social service, in conjunction with Greek and Italian authorities.

Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant’Egidio, said: “The reception of these 10 refugees today is a stimulus so that, in times of confinement, the rest of the countries of the European Union do not forget that there is a forgotten people, who are at the gates of Europe and Lesbos is their symbol.”

He added that Sant’Egidio will help the group to integrate into society and with language programs, as it has previously done with 57 other refugees who have come to Italy using this mechanism.

The first group arrived on 16 April 2016 and traveled on the same plane as the Pope when he returned to Rome from a visit to Lesbos.

This most recent group are split into four families who were unable to leave Lesbos sooner because of restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

Many countries in Europe imposed restrictions on movement or closed their borders to help contain the rate of infections.

One of the arrivals, Razieh Gholami, came to Italy with her children Eshan Khavari, aged four, and Sajad Khavari, aged 10, and husband Mohammad Khavari.

“I am a refugee who has come from Greece, where I have been for two years, in a refugee camp. The situation for those living in Greece is not good,” she said.

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