The City of Peace for Children is the brainchild of Nobel Peace laureate Betty Williams, who in 2003, during a public protest against a project to locate a deposit of radioactive material in Scanzano Jonico, Basilicata, intervened in favour of an alternative use for the area.
The Foundation, created by the Region of Basilicata and the municipalities of Scanzano Jonico and Sant’Arcangelo (PZ), together with the World Centre of Compassion for Children, has been active in Sant’Arcangelo since 2011, creating a process of reception, protection and integration for people who have suffered persecution or live in fear of it due to their ethnicity, religion, nationality or social grouping.
The first refugee families were welcomed in February 2012, and in June of the same year, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally inaugurated the Foundation with a visit to Basilicata. Since then, the Foundation has been part of SPRAR (System for the Protection and Reception of Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and has accommodated more than 250 people from Northwest Africa, the Horn of Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East in various projects, together with the Prefectures of Potenza and Matera and their partners Arci Basilicata and the “Il Sicomoro” Social Cooperative.
In 2014, Betty Williams presented the Foundation’s activities to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the UN headquarters in New York. The City of Peace in Sant’Arcangelo and in Scanzano Jonico received a visit from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2012 and from the actress and human rights activist Sharon Stone in 2015.