Rome, Italy, Jul 16, 2020 / 10:10 am
A Catholic community welcomed Thursday the first refugees to arrive in Rome via a humanitarian corridor through the island of Lesbos since Italy’s coronavirus lockdown.
The 10 refugees from Afghanistan had been stuck in transit in the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island. The camp -- originally intended to hold 3,000 refugees -- now has more than 19,000 people.
“Moria is known as the hell of Europe,” one refugee, Razieh Gholami, told journalists upon her arrival in Rome July 16, four months after Italy closed its borders completely to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“The refugees who live in Moria live in a difficult, frightening condition where fundamental rights are repressed and they have no way of returning or moving forward,” she said.
Pope Francis had advocated for the relocation of these refugees in Italy via a humanitarian corridor organized at his request through the collaboration of the Office of Papal Charities and the Italian and Greek authorities to help young people and families seek asylum in Italy.
These Afghan refugees are the final part of a group of 67 migrants brought to Italy since 2016 by the humanitarian efforts of the Holy See and the Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, which also provides support for the refugees’ integration into Italian society.
For Gholami, the help that she received from the Catholic Church to enable her to travel to Italy was a godsend. She said that she had begun to ask herself in the camp why God would allow human beings to suffer so much.