A group of 113 Eritrean, Somali and South Sudanese refugees who were living in Ethiopia’s refugee camps have left here for Italy on Monday through a relocation program.

The 113 refugees, who are relocated to Italy as part of the “Humanitarian Corridor” initiative, include 88 Eritreans, 22 South Sudanese, and 3 Somalis, who had resided in Ethiopia’s refugee camps for some time.

The Humanitarian Corridor program, which envisages rebuilding the lives of a total of 500 refugees, is an initiative established by the Italian Government in partnership with several humanitarian and faith-based- organizations, the Ethiopian refugee agency (ARRA) and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

Zeynu Jemal, Deputy Director of Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), said the initiative is an important step forward in “changing the lives of refugees as it also gives them hope and one way of curbing illegal secondary movements out of camps.”

“We value and greatly commend the Government of Italy’s contribution to creating a world more open to refugees and to the advancement of comprehensive responses to refugee situation,” Jemal added.

According to ARRA, half of the 113 refugees that were relocated to Italy are minors, including South Sudanese children born in Pugnido’s Refugee Camp in Ethiopia’s Gambella Regional state.

Some 25 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, and South Sudan left for Italy as part of the initiative’s first round of relocation program in December last year.

The humanitarian corridor initiative is designed through a personalized method of accompaniment and integration with an Italian host family and community, it was noted.

The initiative is said to be a response mechanism as refugees often risk their lives crossing the Sinai desert, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea with the aim of reaching Europe through the support of illegal human smugglers and traffickers.