“We host refugees in uninhabited villages”

Hosting Afghan refugees in the uninhabited villages of Sicily. Leoluca Orlando, mayor of Palermo and president of AnciSicilia, once again relaunches the willingness to welcome already expressed in the hours immediately following the capture of Kabul by the Taliban. “Palermo and Sicily are ready to host Afghan refugees, because for some time now my land has made hospitality a flag, demonstrating that integration is not only possible but also convenient – he says in an interview with Repubblica -. I believe that we will be able to carry out a great operation of restocking the villages, entire villages that have emptied themselves and are in danger of disappearing. And use the skills of those arriving in the tourism sector: I am thinking of the linguistic ones “.

The mayor of Palermo has already delivered a first list with about fifty names, people linked to Afghans who have settled in Sicily. “I delivered a first list and I know that the first five or six people we have reported are already at the airport – says Orlando – in this first phase we have to save the targets”. In the first instance, the Sprar could be used and “to count on the great heart of Palermo and many realities active in the area, from Caritas to the Community of Sant ‘Egidio”. Then, however, “economic and management help from the government will also be important: the municipalities are bankrupt. One thing is certain: Palermo does not hold back. This is an opportunity for us too”.

The refugees, is Orlando’s thesis, could settle “in the countries where the homes of the emigrants have remained empty and are sold for one euro. You need to know what you are talking about and not give your side to useless and dangerous incitements to hatred”. Palermo is an example that integration is a concrete possibility: in the city that has rediscovered itself as a tourist, restaurants, migrants because they speak languages. “One could focus on” work in the countryside, for example. Years ago the Waldensian Church made a corridor with Syria and many Syrians settled in the Madonie to work the land: these are experiences already tested and successfully. There is work and there are houses: there are ghost towns that need to come back alive “.

For Orlando there is “an entire Italy, I would say an entire Europe, where the mayors have opened themselves up to welcome. The first citizens are ahead: they have very clear the problem of respect for human rights”. What happened in Afghanistan? “Neo-colonialism has failed: you don’t export your principles with arms. When you defeat the enemy and continue thinking about imposing your values, you are pursuing a vision of failure. First the rejection of war. Always”.


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