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Italian Christian Groups Set Up Safe Mediterranean Passageways for Refugees

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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 and 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. Air transportation will provide an alternative to the dangers of illegal passage across the Mediterranean, described by Marco Impagliazzo of the Catholic Lay Movement, Sant’Egidio as “a death journey” for upto 3,700 migrants who died or went missing in 2015. With the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), Sant’Egidio soon will open assistance offices in Morocco and Lebanon, with the future possibility of a third office in Ethiopia. Christian organizations led by Sant’Egidio and the FCEI will contribute 1.2 million euros (1.3 million Swiss francs or US dollars) to the initial effort.