On Monday, 25 October, an informal ceremony took place at the EUI’s Badia Fiesolana. Present at the signing were the international guests currently hosted by the Institute through the EUI Refugee Initiative (EUIRI), along with the Mayor of Fiesole Anna Ravoni, the Bishop of Fiesole Mario Meini, the President of the local charity organisation "Fondazione Caritas Firenze", Vincenzo Lucchetti, and EUI President and Secretary General, Renaud Dehousse and Marco Del Panta.
Originally launched in 2016, EUIRI is an initiative that upholds the EUI's ongoing values and strong dedication to civic engagement. This year, EUIRI has been broadened in order to accommodate the increased need for assistance following the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. To this end, the EUI has opened its doors to additional Afghan refugees, including a family of four and a young woman.
Moreover, the EUI is a partner, alongside 23 other Italian Universities, of the UNHCR-backed project University Corridors for Refugees (UNICORE), which aims to increase opportunities for refugees currently residing in African territories to continue their academic careers in Italy. As part of this project, two refugee students, originally from Eritrea and South Sudan, have been selected to receive a scholarship to pursue a Master Degree at the EUI School of Transnational Governance. In September 2021, the newcomers joined their fellow students at the STG’s headquarters in Palazzo Buontalenti.
“I am proud that the EUI has once again proven its engagement with its surrounding society, and deepened its roots in the local territory”, said EUI President Professor Renaud Dehousse during the ceremony. He remarked how “immigration policies and international conventions on refugee law are studied at the EUI, in parallel with an actual hosting tradition, which offer tangible results for the development of both [our] guests and [our] researchers. All of this would have not been possible if not for the joint effort of all parties involved.”
Bishop Mario Meini also reiterated the importance of the teamwork involved in the initiative, highlighting that “if each University in Europe took in just five refugees, it would already be a major step towards integration.”
Finally, the international guests thanked the EUI and its partners, expressing their gratitude for having received such a warm welcome and emphasising how supportive the EUI community has been in their integration process.