Scholars at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame have been studying and documenting the Humanitarian Corridors project, a program that, from 2017–2019, provided Eritrean, Somali, and South Sudanese asylum seekers with safe passage from Ethiopia to Italy—an alternative to the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean chosen by many who are desperate to reach Europe. The program also provides support to new refugees, once settled in their new homes, helping them integrate into Italian society.
The newly launched HumanLines web portal is dedicated to documenting and sharing personal stories that illuminate many of the possibilities and complexities of this approach to receiving vulnerable migrants.
Between November 2017 and January 2019, the Humanitarian Corridors project, which is funded by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, made it possible for five hundred Eritrean, Somali, and South Sudanese refugees to leave Ethiopia and enter Italy via a legal and safe route.
The memorandum of understanding for the project, renewed for 2019, provided for the entry of another six hundred people from various countries, including Ethiopia, Niger, and Jordan.
Because of the large numbers of refugees who are tempted to use the Mediterranean route, Humanitarian Corridors cannot be the only solution to the problems arising from human migration in the region, especially without more involvement of state institutions in the project. In fact, the current arrangement, in which all the financial costs are being borne by the Italian Bishops’ Conference, is not a sustainable path forward in the long term.
Nevertheless, HC is a concrete reality that embodies a certain perspective on the problems and proposes a path forward. With HumanLines, it is our intention to imagine and describe the encounters made possible by the project. Studying and recounting the stories that have arisen from HC show that it is a fundamentally important cultural reality for both individuals and communities, and HumanLines is our way of contributing to it.
The goal of HumanLines is to narrate the stories and relate the dynamics, faces, beauty, and difficulties that make up and distinguish the Humanitarian Corridors project. The project is unique in that it provides an alternative vision to the current system of receiving vulnerable migrants with diverse characteristics. For this reason, the Humanitarian Corridors project involves an ambition and complexity that are difficult to grasp at first glance.
Prof. Ilaria Schnyder von Wartensee and Prof. Clemens Sedmak, both of the University of Notre Dame, are responsible for this research project.