Afghanistan, Jewish Italy stands in solidarity

As in Afghanistan the situation rapidly deteriorates and European institutions debate how to face an unexpected wave of refugees, all across the continent civil society organizations mobilize to help those in danger. In Italy, the Jewish world is at the forefront of this humanitarian emergency. The Union of Italian Jewish Communities Council met in extraordinary session and is working at welcoming 22 Afghan families, which in the next two weeks will quarantine in locations identified by the authorities. The initiative will develop in the future with the collaboration of the Jewish communities and some national organizations.
The Jewish community of Florence was among the first to answer the call, in touch with the municipality. “We cannot remain indifferent in the face of the tragedy of a population, and in particular the terror we see in Afghan women’s eyes who fear the cancellation of their most basic rights”, said President Enrico Fink offering the availability of the Community to help in welcoming.
The Jewish Community of Milan also moved in coordination with the UCEI. “We are working to organize a collection of necessities in the area in front of the Holocaust Memorial”, explained to Pagine Ebraiche the President Milo Hasbani. Also, a fundraiser will involve, like last December, different sectors of the city, Jewish and beyond.
As for those who in Italy have taken to the streets to help migrants, there are the spouses Gian Andrea Franchi and Lorena Fornasir in Trieste. For six years, husband and wife have been devoted to assisting the hundreds of refugees who cross the Italian border at North east after following the so-called “Balkan route”, a path that usually begins in Turkey and then winds through either Bulgaria or Greece.
First in Pordenone, then in Trieste, Franchi and Fornasir have been providing first aid to those who cross the border looking for a new life in Europe, after having walked hundreds of kilometers from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan. “They go through a dramatic journey and have terrible stories behind them. But we don’t ask them to tell us about their lives. This is not our task. We try to help them, in silence”, Fornasir explained to Pagine Ebraiche in meeting the editorial staff of Pagine Ebraiche within the framework of the Redazione Aperta journalistic laboratory, which took place last week.
Lorena Fornasir, a 68-year-old psychotherapist, along with her husband Gian Andrea, 85, a retired philosophy professor, and a group of volunteers created a small medical center outside the Trieste railway station, offering assistance to migrants. Their commitment and that of the association they set up, Linea d’Ombra, cost them a trial for aiding and abetting illegal migrants to stay.
“We carry on anyway. Even during the pandemic we continued to show up. We heal the wounds of these people and medicate their feet marred by an interminable journey. It is a political gesture that clashes with the indifference of those around us”, say the spouses, who every day take care of those in need at the benches in Piazza della Libertà.
There are no structures to help them, they explained, but volunteers and associations from different parts of Italy have arrived to contribute. “There are those who accused us of spreading Covid but it is just the opposite: we are a first medical center. We check these guys, we give them masks, we have antigen kits, we take their temperature. And in two years we have never registered anyone with Covid-19”. They do not hide their anger and despair in seeing “this sea of humanity flow in the uttermost indifference and solidarity being criminalized”.

(Above, Afghan evacuees queue before boarding Italy’s military aircraft during evacuation at Kabul’s airport. Image by Italian Ministry of Defense)