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Community of Sant’Egidio signs accord with French foreign ministry

by Carlo Marroni

Rome-based Catholic charity the Community of Sant’Egidio has signed an agreement with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs formalizing long-running collaboration on themes such as inter-religious dialogue, aid for migrants and refugees and the protection of minority Christian communities.

The Community of Sant’ Egidio was set up during the 1970s by historian and activist Andrea Riccardi. Known as the “United Nations of Trastevere” due to its vocation for international relations which it manages from the heart of one of the oldest districts of Rome, the community originally aimed to help poor people in the city. Over time it has built up an aid network across Italy and in many poor countries.

The accord with the French ministry is the latest example of its prominent role in international relations and diplomacy.

After the opening of humanitarian corridors and collaboration in the Central African Republic and other conflict situations, the agreement is “an important recognition of the international activities of Sant’Egidio on the part of the French government,” said Sant’Egidio, and will be signed a few days before the crucial presidential elections by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and the President of the Community Marco Impagliazzo.

The text of the agreement includes space for themes that France and the community have already been collaborating on for years, including inter-religious dialogue, welcoming of migrants and asylum seekers, and protection of Christians in conflict zones.