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Analisys | Conclusions
HL00
CONCLUSIONS
THE ANATOMY OF WELCOMING

THE ANATOMY OF WELCOMING

This exhibit is the outcome of four years of studying the Humanitarian Corridors run by Caritas Italiana.
Its ambitious goal is to translate the complexity of many years of observation into concise bytes of text and image,like flashes of light that can illuminate hidden corners, details, and shadows that are difficult to see at first glance. Each of the panels is presented from an external and neutral perspective, and all are meant to provoke thought and reflection. The QR codes integrated into every panel give access to brief, additional audio content. These give a voice to the protagonists and provide a more thorough framing of the concepts found therein. Further, in-depth text content can also be found on the online portal, humanlines.org
One of the aims of this project is to give something back to its protagonists and to their communities, who have given us their time, attention, ideas, passion, and vision.

HL01
CONCLUSIONS

INTRODUCTION PART ONE

When we speak about Humanitarian Corridors, there are two different planes of issues to keep in mind.
The first is symbolic and political, given that the project falls within the broader context of the immigration policies of the EU. With regard to these policies, it seems that the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) intends to chart a different course, ultimately demonstrating and sending a clear message that it is possible to conceive of and manage migration in a way that diverges from the current system. This is in addition, naturally, to guaranteeing a safe and legal mode of entry for the number of people allowed by the protocols agreed upon with the Government: 500 in 2018/2019 and 600 in 2020/2021, considering the restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are small numbers if we consider the overall landscape of need, but they amount to many individuals, with an impact on many, many other people beyond them. Only two panels are dedicated to the symbolic-political plane, one at the beginning and one at the end of the exhibit.
The second plane involves the localities where hospitality becomes concrete. While this, too, may be called political, it is political in a different way, revolving around the polis and a subsidiarian, ground-up approach, which has a ripple effect on the whole area. The research here focuses chiefly on this dimension, looking at expectations, short-circuits, challenges, dynamics of clash and encounter, and, obviously, beauty as well. While it would have been easy simply to celebrate the beautiful aspects, because this project is one of research and evaluation, it seemed more useful to dedicate time to a critical analysis, in order to stimulate the kind of discussion that leads to improvement over time.
Here we ask questions, rather than drawing conclusions: what does it mean to accompany someone? Is “integration” always the correct word? What is “culture clash?” Can a person cause harm even when they act in good faith? What is the proper amount of distance to keep while welcoming another? These are just a few of the many questions that emerge.
I wish to explain that the reason I chose the Corridors managed by Caritas as the focus of my research is because of its unique approach to hosting people at the local level. Conceptually, this approach pushes us beyond the mere safe and legal transfer of persons. The research reflected in this exhibit focuses on Corridors flowing from Ethiopia between 2017 and 2019, and covers a broad swath of geography and time: 45 Catholic dioceses from south to north were monitored (pandemic permitting) over the course of four years.

 

HL02
CONCLUSIONS

INTRODUCTION PART TWO

This is an unusually long timeframe for a research project of this kind, and it has allowed for precious insights into the depth and variety of circumstances and challenges.
A proper reading of what comes to light here should take into consideration the fact that this study concerns a circumscribed set of beneficiaries – refugees from Eritrea, Somalia, and South Sudan – with their particular characteristics and experiences, so some of the observations may not hold true, or could be less relevant, when applied to different circumstances or places of origin, even if they remain consistent in their principles, which are valid for all contexts of encounter across lines of difference.

What does the study bring to light?
To be extremely (and, therefore, inadequately) brief, what comes to light is that when hospitality is tailored to persons and families, who are hosted in individual homes, it is, paradoxically, more complicated than the form of hospitality that houses large numbers of people in a single structure.This is because the focus is on the individual, and each person is different.
There is also a much higher level of impact on communities, which are directly stimulated and involved, because one of the objectives of the project is to make Italian localities more supportive. Doing this means involving many actors, and allows for better integration of refugees into the social fabric, but also requires a high degree of preparation and gives more sway to the human variable, as well as creating a different level of depth and a stratification which carry complexity along with them.
A great deal depends on the details, which make all the difference. This brings us to the individual locales, which differ greatly one from the other, just as the individual diocesan branches of Caritas and their choices differ, causing some to function better than others.
Finally, to go back to the first plane, as a practical matter, the Humanitarian Corridors have a revolutionary value. While, on the one hand, they risk creating a privileged stream of migration to the detriment of less favorable ones, the concrete action by private parties that galvanizes institutions to take action and involves them in the process is valuable in and of itself, and does much to remind us not to forget those left outside. It pushes us all to to open up more paths, more locales, and more minds.
The course has been charted. It can be improved upon, of course, but it points us in the direction we must take if we, as a society, wish to remain human. The migratory flows can only continue. How we choose to engage with them determines and will determine who we are.

 

HL03
MIGRATION POLICIES
TWO-FACED HOSPITALITY

TWO-FACED HOSPITALITY

The Humanitarian Corridors show that it is possible to think about immigration differently, with safe and legal points of entry and hospitality tailored to people and family units. With more support and resources from governments, help could be extended to a greater number of people in need.
Within the more general migratory context, however, the clear contradictions in the Italian government’s approach become clear. It achieves a veneer of hospitality by signing protocol agreements allowing the Corridors, while, at the same time, and in line with other European institutions, it enacts policies intended to allow only the smallest possible number of asylum-seekers and refugees to enter the “European fortress,” by means of unacceptable agreements with transit countries.

 

HL04
REFUGEE CAMP
WHY MISS THE CAMPS?

WHY MISS THE CAMPS?

In the European imagination, refugee camps are hell. Often, and in many ways, they really are. But they are something else at the same time: places of suffering, yes, but also places where shared experiences generate strong bonds, communal life dynamics, and reciprocal solidarity. These bonds and communal life dynamics are sorely missed later on. Tekle tells us: “What we had in the camp was real love.” Paolo, one of the Caritas operators and Tekle’s friend, admits that, when he first heard this, he felt a bit stung, as though the affection and effort poured out here were somehow less real. But he understood right away that it didn’t make sense to compare the two.

HL05
SELECTION
THE CHOICE

THE CHOICE

The athletic fields at the Mai-Ayni refugee camp in northern Ethiopia also provide the space for interviewing and selecting those who will qualify for the Humanitarian Corridors. A group of men sit in a circle, chatting as they await their turn. They know that, in some sense, they are “competitors” – not everyone can be chosen. Vulnerability is one of the basic criteria to qualify, but part of the assessment involves other characteristics, which are considered instrumental to good outcomes in the hospitality project, and take into consideration the specific destinations in Italy. Not everything the candidates say in their interviews proves to be true, but the stakes are high, and each person plays their cards as best they can. Choosing between them is a sensitive matter and, at the same time, a perverse one, which everyone would prefer not to have to do.

HL06
VULNERABILITY
FRAGILE DEPENDENCIES

FRAGILE DEPENDENCIES

Vulnerability is one of the chief criteria in selecting qualified beneficiaries for the Humanitarian Corridors. It may derive from conditions related to health, disability, background, or other forms of fragility. In addition to being an appropriate criterion on the human level, vulnerability is also the condition envisaged by the Schengen Agreement for granting visas on humanitarian grounds. At the same time, however, vulnerability often comes from situations that make it difficult or impossible to reach some degree of autonomy in the short or medium term - and sometimes at all. This is especially true for large families with small children, parents without job skills, and members with serious health concerns.

HL07
PREPARING THE BENEFICIARIES
THE DREAM BECOMES AN IMAGE

THE DREAM BECOMES AN IMAGE

Addis Abeba: a few days before departure, two beneficiaries watch a video, in which operators and volunteers from the host place introduce themselves, show them their future home, and tell them that they are waiting for them. Not only will they travel safely, but someone will be waiting for them at the airport. Here the difference for those who travel through the Corridors and those who do not is enormous.
During the last meeting, a few days before departure, the beneficiaries are told that they will receive assistance, but that they, too, will have to make an effort, and it will not always be easy. They sign the agreement that lays out the reciprocal duties, although it is not always completely understood at the time. All that matters at that moment is to leave.

HL08
THE TRIP
THE BEST CLOTHES

THE BEST CLOTHES

Departure day is a sight to behold. The travelers stuff their suitcases in defiance of all the laws of physics, with wooden boxes for the daily coffee ritual, pots and pans, and sacks of teff and berberé flour. No one wears their most comfortable clothes for the trip, but only their best, and the nicest hairstyles as well. They wish to meet their new world in the best possible way. Even those who will cross the Mediterranean put on their best clothes, and the preferred color for children is red. This is both to make the best impression upon arrival, and also so that, if the ship goes down, rescuers will spot the children first.

HL09
SHOCK
WHAT IS HOME?

WHAT IS HOME?

June 28, 2018, 1 AM. Twelve-year-old M. pauses for a long moment at the door of his new home, in Lecco, north Italy. Until only a few days before he lived in the refugee camp of Shimelba in Ethiopia, where he left behind his friends.
Two years later he says he still thinks about them all the time, every day. The change of “home” for those arriving from refugee camps is disruptive, and the impact can bring about unexpected surprises and problems. Not all accommodations, no matter how comfortable or functional, are able to make someone feel “at home.”

HL10
MATCHING
THE RIGHT PLACE

THE RIGHT PLACE

A few days after his arrival in Italy, A. meets his new class. A. is deaf – for this reason the town of Cossato, in the Province of Biella, was chosen as the best destination for him and his family. There is an excellent school here, the Istituto Comprensivo of Cossato, where Italian Sign Language (LIS) is studied by all the students, hearing or non-hearing.
Matching is the term used for finding the intersection between the needs and characteristics of the beneficiaries, and the opportunities offered by a certain locale. While A.’s case is a clear example, matching refers to every attempt to find the right place for the specific people involved, starting from the type of dwelling, which will be chosen on the basis of the composition of the group. This concept is one of the features that distinguishes this different approach to managing hospitality.

HL11
EXPECTATIONS
AWAITING

AWAITING


The morning after his arrival, W. looks out at the new world. Maria, one of the volunteers, looks at him.
What is each of them thinking? Much of the path of hospitality plays out in the intersection between the expectations of the beneficiaries, operators, and volunteers. Being able to recognize the expectations of the others and accept them helps with the entire process, and with managing potential clashes, misunderstandings, miscommunication, and frustrations. It is crucial for the welcoming parties to get to know the life plans of the beneficiaries, beyond their signature on the “contract” that spells out duties and obligations.

 

HL12
MOTIVES
READY FOR ANYTHING?

READY FOR ANYTHING?

Volunteers look on during a beneficiary family’s first evening at their new home. Let’s try to read their expressions: enthusiasm, a sort of incredulousness or wonder, great emotion, surely, and determination.
They have spent months waiting, and preparing themselves, for this moment, through formation, conversations, dividing up the tasks, and furnishing the house. Their motto has been to be ready for anything, even disappointment or frustration, and to avoid building expectations (which are, however, inevitable). Is it the chance to be useful that motivates all this energy? Is it the sense of doing something right, which provides meaning?

HL13
COMMUNITY
LANDS OF SOLIDARITY

LANDS OF SOLIDARITY

A group of volunteers awaits the late night arrival of an Eritrean family, after months of preparation and expectation. Some curious friends and relatives tag along.
The creation of supportive communities and the enlivenment of the locale are among Caritas’ primary goals, but this does not always happen or look the same in each of the places, all of which differ even at the level of the population’s receptiveness. The more involvement of volunteers and delegation of duties to them there is, the more labor-intensive the work of forming, preparing, and accompanying them will be, and the better the results and impact on the locality will be, opening it up to the world.
Many volunteers told me that they found themselves unprepared, but it bears noting that encountering someone else is something that often bowls us over, even if we have been prepared for it.

 

HL14
CONTAMINATION
DOMINO EFFECTS

DOMINO EFFECTS

Omar and Fabio pose for a photograph in front of Fabio’s pastry shop. After being hired as a server, early on Omar overheard someone say, “I don’t want my coffee from the black guy.” Fabio was unperturbed, and advised him, “Always be smiling, neat, and kind.” A short while later Omar was receiving more tips than anyone else. Fabio is one of the people who stumbled into a joint project with the Humanitarian Corridors “by chance,” just as the customers at his pastry shop did, as a consequence. Contamination by solidarity is not an exclusive feature of the Corridors, but observing how they work tells us that they are able to facilitate it precisely because they are rooted in a high level of community involvement.

HL15
MENTOR FAMILY
BEYOND THE ROLE

BEYOND THE ROLE

The way Tiziana looks at A. says better than words what it means to be a mentor family for a refugee. Often the word “mentor” falls away, leaving only “family,” which may seem like sentimentality, but is what this study observed. As F. put it: “I didn’t know what parents were. My parents died when I was small. Thanks to Tiziana and Pasquino, now I know what it means.” In some cases, the mentor family is the nearest point of reference – sometimes the only one – while in others it is a more “formal” role assigned to specific volunteers who are integrated within and supported by a dedicated and well-supported group. In all cases, the result is that it works, and the bonds that are created are exceptionally strong. And this makes all the difference compared with the few cases in which there is no mentor family.

HL16
THE ROLE OF THE OPERATOR
KEEPING THE PROPER DISTANCE

KEEPING THE PROPER DISTANCE

Emiliano, an operator, speaks with Mohamed. He seems to be trying to convince him of something, or give him advice, while Mohamed looks down. Is he “only” an operator talking to a beneficiary? No, there is much more going on.
Is it possible to spend days and months close to another person – and a young person at that, at a complicated and vulnerable point in life – offering all the empathy they need, without crossing the line into territory where the roles become confused? Or is it better to cross the line, no matter the cost? If someone becomes too emotionally invested they may no longer think clearly, may form expectations of a given relationship, or may even suffer burnout. But does the proper distance exist, and is it always possible to keep it?

 

HL17
TRUST
BOND

BOND

Paolo and Tekle are friends. Friendship doesn’t always happen between an “operator” and a “beneficiary” – it depends on the approach of both parties, and also on the characters involved, as well as on other, unpredictable dynamics. Friendship aside, what must be built up from the very beginning and then maintained is the bond of trust. If this is broken, the path of hospitality becomes problematic, if not impossible. Often this happens when a beneficiary feels disappointed in their expectations – rightly or wrongly – and feels that it is the fault of their closest interlocutor, even if the latter has done nothing wrong. For this reason mediation, with the clarity and support is has to offer, can help.

HL18
SELF-DETERMINATION
KNOWING HOW TO ACCOMPANY

KNOWING HOW TO ACCOMPANY

A., who holds two advanced degrees and is blind, had a need, from the very first day, to feel free and autonomous – mentally above all. He needed this in order to feel like a person. He hated playing the part of the “refugee” that was scripted for him, and he felt constrained and irritable under the wing of his operators. While it may be tempting to presume always to know what is best for beneficiaries, they are not all the same. The relationship between operators and refugees moves along a fine line, beyond which help can become invasive of someone’s freedom, their right to choose, and their path of self-determination. Knowing how to accompany someone is difficult and sensitive.

HL19
CULTURE CLASH
WOUNDED AID

WOUNDED AID

The children call her Aunt Marta. She and her husband have persevered, while other volunteers have fallen away. Often the investment of time and love by the volunteers is total, at times unconditional. The feedback does not always respond to their expectations. Many women beneficiaries, particularly if they are illiterate – and some men, too – used to communal living with a shared language and codes of behavior, are not able to find their place in the new social context. At times they don’t even want to. Both parties can be left frustrated, especially if the volunteers have not been prepared for this reaction and are not accompanied step-by-step to cope with it.

HL20
LEXICON
INTEGRATION/INTERACTION

INTEGRATION/INTERACTION

Is integration really the right word? Often it is presumed to be the chief goal. It expresses the longing, on the part of the welcomers, to see the new arrivals become an integral part of their new context. It’s a process that occurs regularly and naturally for young people and children, while it can be, at times, impossible for other age groups, partly due to their life experience. In these terms, therefore, it is a unilateral idea, however understandable and in good faith it may be. It pushes for a level of assimilation by the beneficiary that may be unwanted (or not understood) by them, or may even be impossible as a practical matter.Maybe interaction, accompaniment, or standing alongside are more appropriate expressions for a relationship between equals – equals in form and intention, even if not under the material circumstances of the moment.

HL21
MEDIATION
IN THE MIDDLE

IN THE MIDDLE

A mediator, on the right, meets with a family the day after their arrival in Italy. Particularly when the only language a beneficiary speaks is Tigrinya or Amharic, mediation is brought in chiefly – at times solely – to provide the indispensable service of linguistic interpretation.
But mediation is another thing entirely: it is a bridge, a channel that allows the two worlds to understand one another, and to comprehend one another’s perspectives, habits, and ways of living and thinking. When it is facilitated in carrying out this kind of role, mediation is capable of preventing misunderstandings and defusing potential friction due to culture clash. Sometimes – partly due to a shortage of mediators in a given group in a local area – mediation is used less than it could be, and often too late, when a conflict is already underway and the bond of trust has been broken.

HL22
VISIONS
HOW OTHERS SEE THINGS

HOW OTHERS SEE THINGS

Pictures often say it all, if we pause to read them. Unpacking things is more difficult. “Westerners” tend to be unable to shift away from their own point of view. They might visit other worlds and even fall in love with them, having the best of intentions, and considering themselves open, but often they don’t realize that they view the world from the pedestal history has put them on. It’s a sort of unconscious sense of superiority that prevents them from admitting the possibility of other ways of seeing things or doing things, or from accepting their equal value. Doing this calls for keen awareness and a great effort of will. And, even so, the codes of interpretation may be missing. Something symmetrical may happen in the opposite sense, too. It’s called culture clash, and it is often the culprit where there is friction, misunderstanding, conflict, and frustration.

HL23
RELATIONSHIPS
BETWEEN EQUALS

BETWEEN EQUALS

The momentary exchange between M. and Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino captured in this shot suggests a sense of familiarity. The roles seem to vanish: there is neither beneficiary nor benefactor.
A dynamic like this one cannot be taken for granted, and does not happen by accident. Sometimes – or, more correctly, always – it is not the concrete aid that makes a person in a situation of need feel good, but the gift of time. It is one person’s attention that makes the other feel like a person, too, beyond their specific circumstances. This touches on dignity.

 

HL24
RELIGION
THE INTERSECTION OF FAITHS

THE INTERSECTION OF FAITHS

M. and A. pose for a photograph on the bed in their room, surrounded by posters displaying their faith. This room and their home are located within the residence of the Bishop of Assisi, Monsignor Domenico Sorrentino, less than 30 yards away from the Sanctuary of the Spoliazione of St. Francis. This is one of the clearest of many examples of how the CEI, and later the individual diocese, wished to select and welcome people not on the basis of a shared religious faith, but simply on the basis of need. While some instances of mistrust have occurred – in particular among one set of volunteers with regard to Islam – in general this encounter between different faiths has created unexpected and even surprising ways for people to relate to one another

HL25
HEALTH
I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

I WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU

This portrait of Awet, a deaf boy, was taken during a trip to Turin to assess whether some of his hearing could be restored. Many of the refugees received by the Corridors in Italy receive specialized medical treatments and surgeries. It bears noting that the refugees’ expectations concerning medical treatment are extremely high. Ethiopian refugee camps have medical clinics that are easily accessible at all times, although with limited treatment capacity and access to medicines, which are sometimes only placebos. After their experience there, many refugees find it hard to understand the long wait times at Italian hospitals. In general they expect that, in Europe, they will be treated immediately, and that the treatments will always be successful.

HL26
WORK
LA VIA PER L'AUTONOMIA

LA VIA PER L'AUTONOMIA

Long years of dependency in the refugee camps do not create work-oriented attitudes or habits, nor do they leave people with professional skills. On top of this, refugees face the difficulties of the current labor market in Italy, as well as the language barrier, which can be made worse by illiteracy. Women always face additional obstacles: the responsibilities of childcare and housekeeping, frequent pregnancies, and their role in the context of patriarchal cultures.
Unless they are very young, married women have very slim chances of finding work. K., who has a son but is not married – pictured here at her sewing machine at the Quid project facilities in Verona – has succeeded.

 

HL27
LOCATION
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

NO MAN IS AN ISLAND

The host place has turned out to be a crucial variable. It is part of the principle of “matching” to evaluate the suitability of the host context, but since the whole country is involved in the project, this means that some diocese ready to receive people are located in areas that are less favorable than others.
The result is that some people are hosted in places that are more isolated, or less well-endowed with work or social opportunities than others. The problem is not so much small towns, which have proven to be the perfect fit for some beneficiaries and often facilitate their insertion into the social fabric. If, on the one hand, logistical isolation can be a challenge, creating distance from work opportunities and providing little transportation, refugee testimonies reveal that social and relational isolation is far worse. Feeling alone, particularly without the closeness of members of the same cultural or linguistic group, can make people feel disoriented. For this reason, Caritas Italiana later decided to group greater numbers of families in the same geographic areas.

HL28
TRAUMA
THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE

THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE

Highlands of Tigray, Ethiopia. The road in this image comes from the border with Eritrea, located just a few hundred yards beyond these hills. The people fleeing Eritrea, like those who reach the refugee camps from Sinai, or from Somalia to the west, or from Sudan to the south, have complicated backstories. Many of them have faced trauma of various kinds. The trauma of torture or abuse is often invisible, but it works on the body and the mind, for years, or even forever. While great strides are being made in the field of ethnopsychiatry, Mental Health Centers do not always have the resources to provide specialized care for these kinds of patients.

*This title is taken from the title of the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van der Kolk (Penguin Publishing Group, 2015)

 

HL29
SEPARATIONS
“MY MIND IS ALWAYS THERE”

“MY MIND IS ALWAYS THERE”


“My thoughts and worries about my brother do not allow me to control my life here.” 
This sentiment, expressed by a young Eritrean girl, illustrates the mental burden that comes from the people left behind. This has been especially true since hostilities broke out in the Horn of Africa, increasing the danger faced by people who remained in the area, while making it difficult or even impossible to communicate with them. Many refugees say that it is something that constantly occupies their mind, forming an added and invisible barrier to their new course, and sometimes even leading to depression, apathy, and immobility.

 

HL30
FAMILY DYNAMICS
IDENTITY IN MOTION

IDENTITY IN MOTION

The change in context often causes a sort of earthquake for families, changing their roles, breakdown of authority, and internal dynamics. Particularly in cases where the parents come from rural areas and are illiterate, the oldest son or daughter, who is often quicker to pick up the local language and customs, assumes the role of “natural mediator” between the family and the new world. This can place an excessive burden on the young person if they are still an adolescent and, at the same time, cause difficulties for the parents if they see the educational reference points of their own culture called into question. In these cases, the accompaniment of the welcoming party is very important, although there is a risk that it can be perceived as the cause of the unwanted changes. Making appropriate recourse to mediation here can be very helpful.

HL31
SCHOOL
LITTLE CITIZENS

LITTLE CITIZENS

The Humanitarian Corridors have welcomed many family units, both for the sake of the children’s futures, and because families tend to be better received in the host communities. This involves extended timelines for achieving autonomy if the parents do not have characteristics that help them match up well with the job market. As for the children, they enter into the local social fabric with natural ease, provided that their age allows them to attend school with peers or near peers. Things are more complicated for adolescents who lack the qualifications to enroll in class with their age cohort, and whose only option is night school with adults. These children end up “missing the boat” of a normal educational course. Schools have, in general, offered their full cooperation, but sometimes legislative or bureaucratic obstacles to enrollment arise, and teachers, as many will readily admit, are ill-prepared to handle the adjustment needs of adolescents with these kinds of backgrounds and life exper

HL32
THE LENGTH OF THE PROJECT
THE TIME VARIABLE

THE TIME VARIABLE

H. and A. admire a rainbow hanging over the hills by their home. Two years later, and four years after their arrival in Italy, they and their mother abandoned their home overnight, without a word to anyone. From what the community could gather, the choice was due to their daily struggles with a shortage of money.
Caritas Italiana’s official project and financial assistance is projected to last for one year per family, which can be extended to 18 months. After this period, it is up to the local Caritas branches to decide how they will continue to provide assistance, which is almost always necessary for families who are vulnerable, or have young children and parents who are unable to break into the job market. During the course of the study, it was clear that in the few cases in which the local Caritas branches did not plan to provide long-term support from the very beginning, problems arose for the beneficiaries, which had an impact on the volunteers, as well.

 

HL33
DISPARITY
DIFFERENCE AND DIFFIDENCE

DIFFERENCE AND DIFFIDENCE

“Our documents aren’t coming, and our friends in other cities already have theirs.” “They give money to my friends, but here you bring us groceries and we don’t have anything to spend ourselves – isn’t it supposed to be the same project?” These are the sentiments the operators hear again and again. The Caritas project is one, but there are many local Caritas branches, each of which makes independent choices concerning the structure, organization, and local management of their hospitality, while adhering to shared principles, in addition to values, obviously. This is hard to explain to beneficiaries. At times it is even harder to explain that official documents are provided by the local police headquarters, whose timelines can differ significantly one from the other, and can be very long. “But isn’t it Italy that provides the documents?”

* Illustration by Tekle G.B.

 

HL34
ABANDONMENT
THE CALL OF ELSEWHERE

THE CALL OF ELSEWHERE

T. waits at the station to leave Italy with her young children after a very positive year of hospitality. Several of the refugees welcomed in 2018 have left Italy, most at the end of the planned year, but some even earlier.
Their reasons differ: disappointed expectations, a lack of jobs, the need to rejoin their community of reference, and, often, the illusion that they will receive greater financial assistance elsewhere – an illusion frequently stoked by people who make their money transporting people. After all their efforts, volunteers and sometimes even operators can react to these departures with frustration or disappointment, feeling that the project has failed. Another reading is possible, however, which sees these departures as a sign that they have succeeded in putting people in a position to freely choose for themselves.

 

HL35
PERSPECTIVES
AND NOW...?

AND NOW...?

What does the experience of the Humanitarian Corridors tell us? What choices of approach does it open up? The overall balance is undeniably positive, and proves that migration can be conceived of in a new and different way. It also tells us that hospitality tailored to the level of the person is more complex, that a greater degree of encounter between people also increases the risk of culture clash, and that all of this calls for a higher degree of attention, formation, and mediation. Increasing the number of people who benefit from this model would take a higher level of government support and resources. Things are moving increasingly in the direction of the “private sponsorship” model, which, however, runs the risk of creating “exceptions” to the rule that applies to most people, and leading to a form of migration that is selective and privileged. Private social engagement has the advantage, however, of tending to force governments to become more involved in opening doors. It is important, in part, to remind us of all the other people, packed into detention centers in Libya, abandoned to themselves and pushed back from European borders, sometimes illegally, both adults and children alike.





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