May 3, 2016 / 4:48 PM / 3 years ago

Charity flies 101 Syrian, Iraqi refugees to new lives in Italy

ROME (Reuters) - A group of 101 Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrived in Italy on Tuesday as part of a “humanitarian corridor” project helping those fleeing conflict to start new lives.

Flying in from Beirut, the new arrivals, young and old, smiled and greeted officials from the Christian Sant’ Egidio charity at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

The 97 Syrians and four Iraqis had been living in a camp in Lebanon. The charity, working alongside government authorities, aims to house 1,000 refugees in Italy in two years.

“Through this experience we are saying to our friends at the European Union that Europe cannot be a frightened fortress,” the charity’s founder Andrea Riccardi said.

“Europe has its responsibilities to the world if it wants to continue to call itself Europe, because a Europe with walls is no longer Europe.”

Last month, Sant’ Egidio brought over 12 Syrian refugees on Pope Francis’ return flight from the island of Lesbos in Greece. Those families have been housed in local communities.

Reporting By Gabriele Pileri; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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