France, Christian groups to bring refugees in new aid push

A large group of Syrian Refugees
FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2016 file photo, Syrian refugees inside the border wait to be approved to get into Jordan, in the Hadalat reception area, near the northeastern Jordanian border with Syria, and Iraq, near the town of Ruwaished, Jordan. The Senate will consider new rigorous screening procedures for Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking to enter the United States as national security looms large for voters in an election year. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh, File)

PARIS (AP) — The French government and Christian charities are launching an effort to bring 500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to France so that they don’t turn to traffickers for dangerous, illegal sea crossings.

An accord signed Tuesday in Paris in the French presidential palace calls for the refugees to be brought from Lebanon in the coming 18 months in a project meant to be “an alternative to the death voyages in the Mediterranean.”

At the initiative of the Sant’Egidio community Catholic charity in Italy, an ecumenical alliance of Christian groups has come together to help resettle refugees in Europe.

The effort has already helped resettled hundreds of people in Italy, getting children enrolled in school and finding housing, jobs and language classes for parents.