Italian Protestant churches will help settle 1,000 refugees arriving there this month through a “humanitarian corridor” from camps in Lebanon, Morocco and Ethiopia.

The refugees, including both Christians and Muslims, will travel under the safety of humanitarian visas so they are not tempted to risk deadly sea crossings to Europe.

Last week, a Syrian family travelled to Italy from Lebanon through the first such “safe corridor” opened by a formal protocol signed by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Italian government.

Italian churches have committed to provide housing, cultural orientation and language lessons for the refugees during their first months in Italy.

“We hope other countries will replicate our efforts,” said Dr Paolo Naso, of Mediterranean Hope, an organisation set up by the Protestant Federation as a response to the thousands who died trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Source: World Council of Churches