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Pope gives refugee kids a ride on the popemobile

Vincenzo Pinto | AFP

The children and their families are in Italy thanks to the Sant’Egidio “Humanitarian Corridors” project

Pope Francis gave eight refugee children a ride on his popemobile before Wednesday’s general audience. The kids have arrived in Rome from Libya but are from various nationalities, including Syrian, Nigerian and Congolese.

The children and their families are currently hosted by an association on the outskirts of Rome. The self-funded “Humanitarian Corridors” project, which Pope Francis has repeatedly upheld, is carried out by the Community of Sant’Egidio in collaboration with the Federation of Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches.

They arrived in Italy on April 29 by boat.

The Corridors project aims to keep migrants from making journeys on boats in the Mediterranean. Thousands of refugees and trafficking victims have died in the attempt to make this journey.

The project is then able to obtain for people in “vulnerable conditions” (victims of persecution, torture and violence, as well as families with children, elderly people, sick people, and persons with disabilities) legal entry on Italian territory with humanitarian visas, and the possibility to apply for asylum.

The project also responds to national security requirements because visa issuing procedures demand all the necessary checks by Italian authorities.

Once in Italy, the refugees are welcomed in houses at the expense of the associations involved and are offered Italian language lessons, school enrolment for the children, and activities that promote integration and the search for employment.

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