Cooperation on migration issues with the major Countries of Transit was the main theme of the Ministerial Conference “A Shared Responsibility for a Common Goal: Solidarity and Security”, held on 6 July in Rome.
The conference, based on a new integrated approach for managing population flows, was chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, assisted by Deputy Minister, Mario Giro.
It was also attended by the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, the Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Volker Turk and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for International Migrations, Louise Arbour.
The Foreign Affairs Ministers of the major African Countries of Transit took part with those from EU countries heavily involved.
The meeting aimed to enhance the existing partnership with African migration transit countries, which is to protect the EU’s outer border by means of a new integrated approach, based on the principles of solidarity and security. This will protect and assist migrants and refugees in the Countries of Transit, with special attention to the protection of human rights.
The conference was to promote measures to boost assisted voluntary returns of migrants to their countries of origin, supporting local community development projects involving migrants and promoting the role of international organisations in the major African Countries of Transit.
The event was divided into three segments. On the evening of 5 July a welcome cocktail was held, from 6.30 p.m to 8.30 at Villa Madama. A Plenary Session took place on 6 July, from 10 a.m, to 12.20 p.m., in the Sala Conferenze Internazionali, which closed with the adoption of the joint declaration, followed by the family photo and a press conference with the MInister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Angelino Alfano, who offered a working lunch to the heads of delegations, from 1 p.m. to 2.30.
The opening session (10.00 a.m.-10.15) began with a 10-minute introductory address delivered by Minister Alfano in Italian. The plenary session continued with addresses by representatives of International Organisations and the ministers of the countries invited.
The conference was not open to the media.
Minister Alfano chaired the plenary session, which was also attended by Deputy Minister Giro. The session closed with the adoption of a joint political declaration, which represents a balance between the principles of “solidarity and security” on the actions proposed. The main objective is support for local communities and the governments of the Countries of Transit, with international organisations.
Minister Alfano announced three pledges:
one to the EU, for the Trust Fund for Africa, to support Libya’s capability to control its southern borders; the second on the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) supporting assisted voluntary repatriations to Libya;
and the third will be a contribution to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to support the fight against people trafficking.
He also announced confirming the 10 million euros committment to the UNHCR for new measures to be carried out in Libya to protect and provide humanitarian assistance to refugees and migrants, which will involve the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the World Food Programme, to help refugees and migrants transiting through Libya.
Foreign Minister Alfano said he wishes to pursue the initiative, and suggested another conference, with the same format, at the begining of next year.