Migrants waiting to be transfered from the island of Lampedusa, southern Italy Migrants waiting to be transfered from the island of Lampedusa, southern Italy   (ANSA)

World Day of Migrants and Refugees: Caritas Italy calls for more legal pathways

As the Church celebrates the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Oliviero Forti, of Caritas Italy, highlights the need to open more humanitarian corridors to help migrants start a better life while putting an end to labour exploitation.

By Sr. Nina Benedikta Krapić, VMZ

On the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Oliviero Forti, head of Migration Policies and International Protection at Caritas Italy, spoke to Vatican News about various possibilities and challenges in dealing humanely with the flow of migrants toward Europe.

As tens of thousands of refugees reach the shores of southern Italy, Caritas Italy is reaching out, not only hosting and accomodating migrants and refugees, but also advocating at European institutions.

“It's very hard to say what is the solution for this big challenge of migration. But we can say that the first step of a possible solution is to open more legal pathways,” said Mr. Forti, emphasizing the importance of providing opportunities for economic migrants and refugees to reach safe countries.

European countries need to collaborate

Countries along the migration routes can contribute to solving this problem, but only if they work together, explains Mr. Forti.

“We have the possibilities; we have the resources to give a chance to all these people. The problem is that European countries don't want to collaborate. Europe is not clear about migration,” he said.

Migrants ariving to the island of Lampedusa
Migrants ariving to the island of Lampedusa

Fight against labour exploitation

One of the major problems associated with migration is when migrants are exploited by employers. Migrants are often exploited in the agricultural sector or in other sectors of the national economy.

“Labour exploitation in Italy, even in many other countries around Europe, is a really huge problem," said Mr. Forti. "The lack of integration of migrants in our countries does not permit these people to be well integrated in the labour market."

He underlined the need to find effective ways to offer good opportunities, even in the labour market, since migrants arrive in Europe first and foremost because they have not had the opportunity to work in their own countries.

“It's incredible to see that sometimes they are exploited two times: in their country of origin, sometimes in the transit country, and finally even in the destination country,” said Mr. Forti.

Caritas Italy is continuing a project called Presidio, founded in 2015, which aims to improve the living conditions of migrants in Italy.

Caritas, in collaboration with other organizations, provides legal, medical and social assistance to thousands of migrants living in different parts of the country. Thanks to this project, they are able to find employment and protect their rights as workers.

2023 World Day of Migrants and Refugees

The 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees takes place on Sunday, 24 September 2023.

In his message for this year’s World Day, entitled “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay”, Pope Francis called for joint efforts by individual countries and the international community to ensure that all enjoy the right not to be forced to emigrate, but to live in peace and dignity in one's own country.

The Pope called to show maximum respect for the dignity of each migrant and expand channels for safe and regular migration. He urged everyone to make efforts “to ensure to everyone an equal share in the common good, respect for his or her fundamental rights, and access to an integral human development.”

Listen to the full interview
24 September 2023, 08:00