The Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay association, provides services to and advocates on behalf of underprivileged, disadvantaged, and low income social groups around the world. Started in Rome by Andrea Riccardi in 1968, the Community has grown to 60,000 members across more than 73 countries and four continents. In this episode, CMSOnAir speaks with Paola Piscitelli, president of the Community’s chapter in the United States, on one of the Community’s innovative programs – The Humanitarian Corridors Project.
The project was launched on December 16, 2015 when the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Protestant Churches, and the Waldensian and Methodist Churches in Italy joined with the Italian Interior and Foreign Ministries to protect migrants and refugees making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. The Humanitarian Corridors Project aims to:
- Prevent deaths at sea and exploitation by human traffickers;
- Provide legal and safe entry to vulnerable people;
- Plan reception and integration processes; and
- Self-fund with no costs to the host country.
Under the initiative, 1,000 of the most vulnerable refugees (e.g., women, children, the disabled, the sick, and the elderly) in Lebanon were allowed to travel to Italy over a two-year period with humanitarian visas. The success of the project has led to the opening of new humanitarian corridors agreements to allow 500 refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan in Ethiopia to resettle in Italy and 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon to resettle in France.
Pope Francis has expressed support for the initiative. During his Angelus address on March 6, 2016, he stated:
As a concrete sign of commitment to peace and life, I want to mention and express admiration for humanitarian corridors in favor of refugees, launched recently in Italy. This pilot project, which combines solidarity and security, allows one to help people fleeing war and violence, as the hundred refugees who have already been transferred to Italy, including sick children, disabled people, war widows with children, and the elderly. I also welcome this initiative because it is an ecumenical one, supported by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Italian Federation of Evangelical Churches, and the Waldensian and Methodist churches.
In this episode, Piscitelli describes the history of the Community of Sant’Egidio and explains its Humanitarian Corridors Project, including the process of identifying refugee beneficiaries and the communities to host them, the services and programs coordinated to welcome refugees, and the importance of ecumenical partnerships to serve people in need.
To learn more about the Community of Sant’Egidio USA and the Humanitarian Corridors Project, visit www.santegidiousa.org.
Rachel Reyes: Welcome to CMSOnAir – the podcast on migration and refugee issues brought to you by the Center for Migration Studies of New York. This is Rachel Reyes, CMS’s Director of Communications. In this episode, we speak with Paola Piscitelli who is the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio USA. In order to provide a solution to the many victims and the risks run by migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the Sant’Egidio community and the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy signed an agreement on December 16, 2015 with the Interior and Foreign Ministries to open humanitarian corridors. This would allow 1000 refugees in vulnerable conditions, currently in Lebanon, to travel to Italy over a two-year period with visas issued for humanitarian reasons, a procedure already in European law.
Pope Francis has supported and encouraged this initiative. During his Angelus on March 6, 2016, the Holy Father stated: “As a concrete sign of commitment to peace and life, I want to mention and express admiration for humanitarian corridors in favor of refugees launched recently in Italy. This pilot project, which combines solidarity and security, allows one to help people fleeing war and violence, as the hundred refugees who have already been transferred to Italy, including sick children, disabled people, war widows with children, and the elderly. I also welcome this initiative because it is an ecumenical one, supported by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Italian Federation of Evangelical Churches, and the Waldensian and Methodist churches.”
Thank you, Paola, for joining us.
Rachel Reyes: To begin our conversation could you please introduce yourself and discuss your work with the Community of the Sant’Egidio.
Paola Piscitelli: My name is Paola Piscitelli. I met the community, kind-of 40 years ago – or maybe a little more – when I was in high school in Rome, in Italy. Rome, Italy is the place where the Community started in 1968, so we are going rapidly – actually in February – towards our 50th anniversary. I came to New York 25 years ago – where I live now – and I coordinate the activities and the programs of the Community in the United States.
Rachel Reyes: Can you describe the Community of Sant’Egidio, including its historical origins?
Paola Piscitelli: Yes. So the Community started, as I said, in 1968 from a group of high school students. They were high school students in a public school of Rome – they were not connected to any particular church. And there was this young man, 18 years old, Andrea Riccardi, who was actually the founder of the Community, who gathered some friends, some classmates, or other friends of the same age, around the idea that the gospel and scripture could change our life and could change the world. It was a time of unrest; the 60s all over the world, but also in Italy. It was the time after the second Vatican Council, so there was a lot of soul-searching. And Andrea chose this very simple path that was, you know, that the gospel is presenting a way of living and a way of living that is changing the reality of things – the way Jesus did one by one.
So, it started from this small group and now it’s 60,000 people of every age in 73 countries of the world acting in very different projects. As I said, from children to elderly and so on.
Rachel Reyes: Could you also discuss the development of the Community’s mission and role in society?
Paola Piscitelli: So from that very first intuition and that very first gathering in which the theme was actually loneliness, which is very interesting for our world today because we are facing it even more, this little group started, and started gathering together around scripture, so in prayer, and immediately, from the very beginning, serving the poor. It’s very important for the Community of Sant’Egidio because these two aspects – the prayer and the poor – cannot be disconnected. And in a way are part really of our intuition, spiritual intuition. We say that we cannot be Christian if you don’t meet the poor. And actually, it has been particularly good lately with, you know, Pope Francis, because he has encouraged us to meet, and to meet personally these other brothers and sisters of ours.
An important aspect also that has developed, I would say from the late 80s until now, is also the aspect of peacemaking. That was not in our first intuition, it was not that we were peacemakers or conflict resolution trained. We were just people who wanted to help and to change the situation of those who lived in worse situations. But then we got involved in Mozambique and actually, from 1989-1992, the mediation for the Mozambique Civil War was held in Sant’Egidio, in Rome. The founder of the Community Andrea Riccardi and Don Matteo Zuppi were two of the four mediators of this negotiation. That brought a whole new commitment and involvement of the community in the peace process of the world. Mozambique is the only peace agreement signed with the facilitation of an NGO and it was signed on October 4, 1992 and the peace has held so far. It’s more than 25 years and we’re also very happy for that.
Rachel Reyes: How did the Community transform its mission into action?
Paola Piscitelli: So the community started simply without any structure, without any buildings, without nothing. It was just a group of friends praying together, and at the beginning, helping the children in the poor periphery, in the slums of Rome. At that time there were still slums in Rome. Through that personal encounter, we discovered many aspects of poverty. First of all, close by in Rome, we discovered the reality of the elderly at home. We discovered the reality of the people with disabilities who were hidden. So we started to try to respond. Also in this, the Community is not really an organization or an institution because it tries to respond to the needs that come to our life. So also, it’s a personal challenge, it’s a challenge for the Community to be always open-eyed and open-hearted to discover what are the needs around us and how to respond.
That’s why you know, it doesn’t have a specific field. So the refugees, for example, it’s just one of the things that we respond to. But we are very involved in the campaign against the death penalty, we are very involved with the children, with the elderly, with the people who live in the streets. So, really, it depends on where we live and where the community is, to look around in a gospel and lift up your eyes and look around, and the harvest is ripe so do something.
Rachel Reyes: Can you chronicle when the Community’s humanitarian work began with refugees? Did such service begin with the Humanitarian Corridors Initiative or was the Community’s relationship with refugees established at an earlier time?
Paola Piscitelli: Yeah, the Humanitarian Corridors came later. That was more the commitment for peace. Humanitarian Corridors is a development of the latest – I would say from 2015, I guess, was signed the agreement. That doesn’t mean that our friendship and our commitment to the refugees started then. That started much earlier in Italy. In probably at the beginning of the 80s, I would say, because it was also a new phenomenon for Italy. Italy was before a country of immigrants – there are plenty of them here in the United States but also all over the world – was a poor country. But then at the beginning of the 80s, because the situation changed. It became a country of welcome where people were coming. And at the beginning, one of the first things that we did was a school of Italian language. Just to help them integrate and welcome. I remember actually I was doing it when I was in Rome myself and it was a great opening, a great door on the wall. It’s like discovering different people, different stories, the harshness of life, the difficulties that they have to go through, the challenge of resettling in a new country. So it was the first opening, but also, you know, knowing people of other religions, of other cultures, starting to celebrate other festivities, respecting the religion, starting a friendship. Because we really do think that friendship, also with immigrants and refugees, is one of the biggest challenges that we have. It’s one of the most important things because it’s also the separation and the isolation in which sometimes refugees and immigrants live, it’s also the source of many other problems.
Rachel Reyes: Could you also explain why the Community decided to get involved?
Paola Piscitelli: So, given this background and this sensitivity, and this openness also to the world of refugees, then in the last 5-6 years, as everyone knows, because of the new media and so on, this phenomenon has reached really large dimensions and tragic dimensions. We have seen a lot of death in the Mediterranean Sea of people seeking a new future, seeking a better life, and unfortunately being the victims of traffickers, of people without any sense of humanity, exploiters, abusers of women and every kind of disgrace and tragedy. I mean, the image of the little Alan on the shores of the sea is under the eyes of everyone.
So, again, in a way, for the intuition that I said at the beginning, that as a community we ask ourselves, okay, so there is this problem – what can we do? So, what can we do was the question in front of this tragedy, in front of this new tragedy I would say. And so we started to think and started to creatively think how we could help. And here comes the idea of the humanitarian corridors, which took advantage of a loophole or an opening in the European legislation that allowed visa for humanitarian reasons. And so what we thought, and what these humanitarian corridors do, is to provide a visa in the refugee camps for some people on a humanitarian ground and then allow them to come to Italy in a safe way and then being welcomed and integrated in society. So, this was the idea, first of all, to respond to this tragedy of this many deaths of people in the Mediterranean so to respond to that, to offer a safe way to travel and to help them resettle.
Rachel Reyes: So we’ve been speaking about the Humanitarian Corridors Initiative. Could you explain what the term Humanitarian Corridors means?
Paola Piscitelli: So Humanitarian Corridors. It has two components, right? One is humanitarian, one is corridors. Corridors usually are safe ways where people can walk. Even in a territory of war, usually you have a corridor or you may hopefully have a corridor that allows supplies, aid, to arrive. So the corridor is like a safe way, so that’s one idea. And humanitarian because it’s a corridor that is given and is allowed on humanitarian ground. That means the need, the weakness, the illness, the vulnerability of some categories of people, being children, being people who are sick and being also women, who are more subject to the exploitation and the abuse, and the violence of the traffickers. There was a last episode, I think, at the beginning of the month in Italy again, a certain number of women found dead on a ship, only women, 30 maybe or more than that. There were also men on that ship but only the women were killed, so, you wonder why. And so you know, women, for example, in particular are subject to more violence and abuse so that also falls into the category of humanitarian help.
Rachel Reyes: That being said, could you describe the Humanitarian Corridors Initiative and how it came about?
Paola Piscitelli: Yes, the Humanitarian Corridors is a pilot project. It’s meant to be a pilot project, in the sense that it’s a small project because the first one that was written and was approved was for 1000 immigrants. So, obviously a small number in comparison to the millions that are moving around the world. But still, it planned to be also a way to offer, a way how nations could deal with this problem. So what it does, it identifies the people in the refugee camps and the identification is done both by the agency that facilitates the travel and by the UNHCR so they are already, in a way, in the first application or in the first process of the refugee recognition. They are not already established otherwise it would be easier.
I think that this project came about because of the way the Community is present or tries to be present in the world. That means being open to read the ‘signs of the time’ – that was a message of the Second Vatican Council that the church was invited to read the ‘signs of the times’, and so to understand where is the need and how we can respond. So not to be paralyzed in one program or in one institution, but just to be open and looking at what is needed and try to respond. Knowing that each of us in different ways are always questioned by the reality around us. So, at the very beginning of our experience, was a very important parable in scripture that is the parable of the Good Samaritan in which the Levite and the priest passed by a half dead man. So you can wonder how did it happen? They were religious people. But I think sometimes the risk for religious people is exactly that – to feel that they are already, or we are already doing something, we are already doing our part, and so we become almost indifferent to some other new aspect or new need or new question that comes to us. So I think that the good thing about this program is really being able to respond to one of the needs of the last hour, of the last time – our time. And so I think in that sense it’s an invitation also always to be open and alert, and open-hearted to respond to the reality around us.
Rachel Reyes: The process behind the Humanitarian Corridors Project must be quite extensive. Can you begin by explaining what it entails exactly, particularly regarding the process of selecting appropriate candidates and the specific eligibility criteria? In other words, how do refugees qualify to participate or how do they get chosen?
Paola Piscitelli: There is a list already, you know, in the camp. These are refugee camps that are organized by the High Commissioner for Refugees. So there is already a criteria and a list. Then we go through the list, go through the people, and then we see them. The agencies, you know, the sponsors decide who they are. I say also personally because I receive also many requests here in the United States even if there is no humanitarian corridors because people you know, by word of mouth they know that there is Sant’Egidio doing this. So they see Sant’Egidio USA and they think that we can help. Unfortunately, as you well know now in the United States for now we are far from that. It’s usually both ways. There is the list of the High Commissioner for Refugees and then there is also some people who ask and are, you know, mentioned to us, then we make a list.
Once they are identified in the camp, then there is a list that is written and it’s presented to the Minister of Interior and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Italy that has to approve it. So that also all the background checks and everything of security and safety is done. And then it’s brought back to the local Italian embassy – in this case in Lebanon, so that they can issue the visas and then the people are put on a flight and then they are welcomed in Italy.
And also the welcome is done in a very personal way, in the sense that, for example, the first 1000 people arrived in groups. I think there were 200, then 200, and then another group. Mostly minors, the minors were the most numerous – so there were 37.5% children under 10, 22.5% young people between ages 18-30, and of the total 52% were women.
And so in that sense, you can see also how the people were more vulnerable. I mean that the categories of people who were chosen and could benefit also from this program really have to fall into the category of vulnerability. So there are women, children, people with illness, very old people also that are in danger in the camp. Because this is also the deal with the humanitarian visa. It’s humanitarian in the sense that it has an appeal on the human weakness and is directed to the people who are more in danger and weak in the camp, they have less resources of their own.
Rachel Reyes: Thanks, Paola. Could you also describe what the welcome and reception of these refugees in the host countries looks like?
Paola Piscitelli: I am sorry that being on a radio you cannot see the smiles and the pictures and the big celebration that there is when they arrive at the airport because it’s really joyful. I mean and it’s so different from so many images of refugees that who see, you know, pushing and in the lines, or held here in the United States at the airport. These people are welcome, so there are usually representation of these three sponsors – the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of the Evangelical Churches and the Waldensian table, which is another protestant church in Italy. There have also often been the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio and representatives of the Italian government to welcome them. There is big banners of “Welcome” and clapping of hands and really it’s a joyful moment.
From then, they are already assigned to the different sponsors and brought and addressed to the families or to the places where they have to be. So some of them, because of transportation, obviously the plane arrives in Rome, which is the main airport, but then they are eventually brought by bus or by train, or directly to their place of destination. So it’s a very direct welcome. And once they arrive in the place of welcome, they do the regular path of all the refugees. They have to present to the local authorities, to security so that they can start the regular application for refugees, because this is a visa that allows them to enter, but it’s not a refugees recognition. So they have to apply for the first stage of that process. So they have to apply, but to do it faster and smoother in the first month when they arrive the agency takes care of that, the sponsor takes care of that, and they do it all together. They are provided a job, they are taught Italian, so they are inserted in a school. The children are immediately registered in school, so all this is done very quickly. And because of the small numbers and this personal, individual attention to each case. It’s not the mass. You don’t have to deal with a large group that makes things always more difficult, but you have each situation is dealt personally. I think it’s one of the keys of the success of this project, together with the fact that it’s free.
And that has allowed us to work for the settlement of refugees in Italy in a very personal way. In the sense that these agencies provided places where these families or individuals could be placed. So our guests were not put in another camp or in another container, but they were directly put in a village, in a town. They were not only in Rome, they were scattered around Italy. Usually one or two families per place, where there was a center that was helping to welcome one family, another parish would take care of other two families. So the welcome was very personal, and that I think is also, one of the reasons of the success because we are not speaking about masses of people being flooded in one place with the difficulties also of the welcoming place to absorb them. But it’s really something tailored on the family and on the person. This is all done by the agency who runs the project, and they take charge, also economically, of everything. So this is very important because this doesn’t cost anything to the government, practically.
Rachel Reyes: Previously you mentioned that many of the refugees are young people or minors. Do they come with their family or are they unaccompanied?
Paola Piscitelli: The minors are coming with families. Many of them who are sick, in need of medical care. Again that was one of the criteria to choose the families. It’s also bad because in a way you have to choose the cases and it’s always a difficult problem because how do you choose. It’s not easy. But priority was given, for example, there was a little girl who needed an operation to her eyes because she had a cancer. There are others who were disabled with different kind of disabilities. So, for them the life, and the long wait in the camps, was really affecting their future and the perspective of getting better, even of healing, so that was one of the criteria. We try also to preserve that, to keep the families together because it’s meaningful, because you need that support. And one of the tragedies of this phenomenon is the separation. Sometimes you receive this letter – I have my mother here, my father there, you know, my sister is in another place and so you are completely then left alone, difficult to contact. Another thing that we provide, for example, when they arrive is a telephone, a telephone number with the data, with the Wi-Fi, so they can be in touch with the rest of the family. We try to be attentive to even the smaller needs that in fact are essential for their life. Being in contact with your family is not an extra, it’s not a luxury item, it’s something that really makes your life possible, livable, balanced and happier, which prevents a lot of other problems.
Rachel Reyes: What is involved in selecting and then preparing a host community to receive refugees?
Paolo Piscitelli: In order to have a family, let’s say sent to Novara, in the north of Italy, you have to have somebody who welcomes them. So, the work is done before to identify the place and to have a community that can welcome. So, otherwise you know, we don’t send, we don’t impose a family on anyone. It’s not that you can say “no, you have to accept”, that’s not how it is done. So there is certainly a nucleus or at least a little group that can welcome. And I think that then that helps also the others that maybe more hostile or fearful. But I think that’s also a difference because it’s not that by working on a table and deciding on a table, you decide okay, “these two here, these two there” without speaking, without interacting with the receiving community. So, there is dialogue before. And so I think that’s also part of the process.
Rachel Reyes: For how long are the refugees supported and considered a participant in the project?
Paola Piscitelli: They are supported by family but usually they are independent. There is their house, their apartments, or whatever it is. They are not in temporary shelters.
I don’t know how long is the time. I think with all of them, as much as they need, but often some also find immediately a job. All the integration, it’s a kind of personal so there is not a time or a time frame. But I think so far it has been pretty smooth.
Rachel Reyes: Could you describe then the successes that this initiative has had?
Paola Piscitelli: We have welcomed until now 1000 refugees from Lebanon, which are Syrian and Iraqi, mostly Muslims, there are few also Syrian Orthodox Christians. There are two other pieces of the first agreement of 2015 that are taking place: one should be 500 refugees with an agreement with France, with the Community of Sant’Egidio in France and the Protestant churches in France. And another is another 500 people, actually from Ethiopia that we are bringing through the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Italian Caritas. They are representatives of the Community now in the refugee camps in Ethiopia and they’re trying to bring the people out. And then, just at the beginning of November, a second agreement was signed with the Italian government for another 1000 refugees. So that also says something about the program that went well. So this is really the idea, to show that it works and to say, “Why don’t you do it?” You know, it’s still simple, it doesn’t cost you anything and we do all the work. Let’s have people integrating in a positive way, in a personal way, but also the things that I was stressing before about the welcoming, I think it’s really a great thing. And it’s very beautiful because also from the story of the people you see how a story of integration and a positive story also change other people. Also people who were more resentful or more against – let’s say in a town, in a little village – people who were scared or afraid of this, immigrants who come. Once they welcome one in a positive way, when they see there is nothing to fear, that these are people who are good and eager to integrate, that changes also their mind. So I think it has also a positive effect, also in a larger way, because it changes the mentality of people from fear to welcome and appreciation.
Rachel Reyes: Do you know or are you encountering any operational challenges or any challenges for that matter?
Paola Piscitelli: For me, I mean looking at this – I’m not in Italy now so I don’t know the details of all the settlement. Not that I know to this point there is any negative response. I think that the greatest challenge is to choose the people. It’s just to make one thousand over I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of people who are in the camps. That I think is the toughest choice. The others is feasible. It requires the creativity of people. This is also with the other organizations, with the evangelical churches and with the other Waldensians that really people also want to help. It’s not that there is all this negativity. Unfortunately, too often, the media do a bad job, in the sense that they publicize only the negative aspects, only the bad images. I think that what the media do sometimes enlarges the dimensions of the problem in a negative way. So I think that this project also offers a positive approach and proves that there are possibilities of positive approaches. And also that people are happy. I mean the fact that so many people accept to welcome people; this is also a great discovery. But you have to work with people, you have to speak, you have to explain, it’s not that you have just to dump some people in a place like that. Then people react, they feel helpless, they don’t know what to do, they don’t know how to do it, and they are afraid, but I think in the sense of welcoming, there are much better stories and possibilities.
Rachel Reyes: Due to the significance of the Humanitarian Corridors Initiative, do you know is anyone collecting data on the refugees that are being assisted through this program? Particularly, statistical and demographic data for example or how well they are faring in their new lives?
Paola Piscitelli: All the data are kept but are confidential due to the privacy of individuals. These people have been settled in the last year practically, so the first one came I think in January 2016. It’s a program that is one year old, the arrival of the people, so it’s very short. So, certainly, there is list of all the people who arrived, their settlement, their situation, their whereabouts, and I think that the sponsors of the program, the promoters of the program, keep that, together with the authorities. How this is going to be analyzed, I don’t know. Even this data about the composition of the people; it comes from there, about from where the people are coming. Probably there is also some data about the illness, there is about the religion, that the majority are Muslim. I don’t know if there is already a more systematic analysis of that success. I think it’s kind of short time, maybe, two, three years would be better to see really the results.
If this follows the pattern of Mozambique, in the beginning the community mediated peace in Mozambique and then we studied it. So now, practically at any course on conflict resolution at the university, this particular mediation is taught. It was the first of the kind, it has been analyzed, it has been broken down and all of these things. So I’m imagining that something of the kind will happen also with this, because I think it’s really good, so I hope that somebody will study it, also in a more academic way. There are people in the project already, that do the project, that are also professionals, so they are not only volunteers. And as I said, also within the community, this relationship with the immigrants has a long story. There are lawyers who are able to identify this law and how we could take advantage of the law already existing to create this program. So you have to put together some professionality, some generosity, some creativity, and put all together and make a project, so I hope they will do it.
Rachel Reyes: Paola, could you also speak to the importance of merging the Catholic and evangelical faiths into this ecumenical partnership?
Paola Piscitelli: The Pope praised this initiative because it has been not only Catholic. We have a call to unity that has been a long process and sometimes it has been more academic or intellectual. But this I think there is much that Christians can do together on the ground and joining forces and their unquestionable desire to help others, that is a commandment and there is a request that comes directly from our faith. And so I think in that sense the possibility and showing also to the world that there are Christians together, united, who can respond to a need, I think is a great message.
Rachel Reyes: Are there any other efforts such as specific programs or services that the Community of Sant’Egidio is carrying out in an attempt to aid or support migrants, particularly refugees?
Paola Piscitelli: The programs of the community for refugees are very large in Italy, as I said, it started with a school of Italians. And it goes really to a full welcome of the tradition, of the cultures, of embracing that, of knowing, of studying, of acknowledging the difference, but also welcoming the difference. So, it goes from the language but then it’s celebrating the holidays together. Also in very concrete help in doing the papers or introducing them to the world, to the job market and so on. In many other countries there is this aspect, where the community is, there are the schools of language, whatever language is the one that needs to be taught. In the United States lately, just a few months ago, we started a school of English in Boston, for immigrants – mostly for Hispanic immigrants. Something also that we try to do is the integration. So, something that we did especially with young immigrants in Italy, and in Europe is a movement called “People of Peace.” Which is a movement of people of different faiths and backgrounds, but are willing to work for peace, to volunteer for whatever needs are requested. A lot of the immigrants who were received by the community or welcomed at the beginning are now themselves doing the work and that’s very important. And at the same time, again, it’s not putting the immigrants in a secondary place, as only the recipients of some service, but actually, also as the actors, and the protagonists of our work of integration and welcome. So when we say we want peace, for example in Europe and in the world, they can say it with us. And it’s very beautiful because there are many Muslims part of this movement and, again, it’s a response to the marginalization that we see in many cities, also in Europe, and where also more fundamentalist groups fish in order to find the depths, so it’s also a response to that kind of isolation and marginalization.
Rachel Reyes: Okay, thank you, Paola. So just one last question. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any final words for our listeners?
Paola Piscitelli: Thank you for having me and thank you for this conversation. I hope this will also raise some interest and some desire to do more and to create ways in which we can welcome refugees and have them as our neighbors in our cities.
Rachel Reyes: Paola Piscitelli is the president of the Community of Sant’Egidio USA. To learn more about the Community of Sant’Egidio USA, visit www.santegidiousa.org. CMS’s theme music is provided by Danny Duberstein and the Music Case. Special thanks to Olivia Soderini for providing assistance with the recording and the transcription of this episode. To learn more about the Center for Migration Studies of New York, visit us at cmsny.org.