Vatican welcomes three new refugee families from Syria Two of the families are Christian and have faced persecution back in their countries due to their faith while the other is Muslim.

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Three new families have moved into the temporary homes in the Vatican apartments, as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution, taking the place of three families from Syria who were welcomed in Italy in late 2015 and early 2016 and have moved on to live independently.

According to a communiqué released by the Vatican Press Office, two of the families have fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March.

The first of the two families is comprised of a mother of two teenage sons, a grandmother, an aunt and a Syrian woman who lives with them. The second family includes a young couple with their two-week old baby daughter, Stella, who was born in the apartment they now live in. The mother had been abducted and in the hands of the so-called Islamic State for many months.

The third family is Muslim and the first to have arrived in Italy in February 2016. The parents and two children have also overcome hardships. The oldest daughter is sick but is on her way toward recovery.

The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table.

The project is a concrete response to the appeal launched by Pope Francis on 6 September 2015 during the Angelus when he called on  parishes, religious communities and sanctuaries of all Europe to take in a migrant family.

Thanks to the “humanitarian corridors” 70 families have found welcome in Rome, for a total of 145 people.

The main goals of the self-funded project are:

1.    To avoid journeys on the boats in the Mediterranean, which have already caused a high number of deaths, including many children;

2.    To avoid human trafficking, preventing the exploitation of human traffickers who do business with those who flee from wars;

3.    To grant to people in “vulnerable conditions” (victims of persecution, torture and violence, as well as families with children, elderly people, sick people, persons with disabilities) legal entry on Italian territory with humanitarian visa, with the possibility to apply for asylum.

As well as providing adequate housing, the project foresees a process of integration for those involved which includes Italian lessons.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, said that aside from providing a home for the three families, the office also continues to provide financial support to the three Syrian families whom Pope Francis brought to Italy after his visit last year to the Greek island of Lesbos and for the nine additional refugees who arrived later.

Source: Vatican Radio

 

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