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Mediterranean Hope: “On land, at sea and In the skies…”

Mediterranean Hope: “On land, at sea and In the skies…”

Illustration: Francesco Piobbichi/FCEI

20 December 2018

The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) and others involved in support for migrants on land, at sea and in the skies are strengthening their collaboration.

The humanitarian corridors programme, an ecumenical project developed by the FCEIs Mediterranean Hope team with the Comunità di SantEgidio in 2015 is now in its second phase. It has produced legacy corridors enabling over 2,000 migrants to travel safely and legally to Italy, France, Belgium and Andorra from the Middle East and from sub-Saharan Africa.

This pioneering spirit remained in evidence on 20 December as the FCEI unveiled its collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at work in the Mediterranean and its support for the communities in Calabria which have provided the world with a model for welcoming migrants.

The FCEI, which has already been collaborating for over a year with Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms (POA), will now extend financial, material and logistical support to Sea-Watch and to Pilotes Volontaires. Support for the communities in Calabria will be more nuanced, taking account of the difficult economic conditions in which these communities find themselves. New life was breathed into these communities after they welcomed migrants into their midst. Now, following a series of political decisions which have seen state support dry up and effectively dismantled the reception system, there is a significant risk that any progress made will be entirely reversed.

Riccardo Gatti of POA underlined the importance of solidarity at a time when the work of those offering humanitarian assistance is increasingly characterised as criminal.  He spoke of the campaign to frustrate search and rescue efforts, and the courage required to express solidarity in the current climate.

FCEI president Luca Maria Negro emphasised the biblical imperative to demonstrate radical hospitality. From his perspective, the work carried out by the FCEI is a simple manifestation of that imperative, the foundation for which can be found in the “Welcome Manifesto” which the FCEI published this summer.

Giorgia Linardi of Sea-Watch referred to the existing collaboration between Sea-Watch and the Protestant churches in Germany, and the importance of replicating that with partner churches in Italy.

Paolo Naso, coordinator of Mediterranean Hope, highlighted the importance of the faith network in sustaining humanitarian initiatives and demonstrating creativity in the support it offers.

Mimmo Lucano, mayor of Riace, remains subject to the untested allegation of facilitating illegal immigration and is currently not permitted to enter Riace, the town to which he has devoted all of his energy for many years. Despite these personal difficulties, he remains committed to the people of the town and, in particular, those who have migrated there. He spoke movingly of the apparent disconnect between permitting informal camps where migrants live in dreadful conditions and policies which have led to integrated reception in communities such as Riace being dismantled.  Lucano recognised the fundamental importance of external support if Riace, and its integration model, is to survive.

 

Mediterranean Hope

Welcome Manifesto

FCEI press release 20 December, 2018