The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Luigi Di Maio, met the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in New York on the sidelines of the 74th General Assembly of the UN.
The Minister reiterated Italy’s position as priority partner of the UN High Commissioner (UNHCR) in assisting refugees in the main humanitarian crises across the globe and in the orderly management of migration flows, particularly in transit countries like Libya and Niger. With respect to the Africa Fund, over 26 million euros have been given for the benefit of UNHCR and, in the 2017-2018 two-year period, Italian Cooperation has funded UNHCR initiatives for 40.7 million euros. For 2019 the contributions to UNHCR for emergency initiatives will amount to about 9 million euros of which 800,000 euros have already been approved for the Venezuelan crisis.
Minister Di Maio expressed his satisfaction with the collaboration with UNHCR in the main crisis areas, recalling the “humanitarian corridors” project which has so far enabled the safe reception of over 2,300 refugees and asylum seekers with the operational contribution of UNHCR. The Minister also recalled the cooperation with UNHCR in Libya for the periodic humanitarian relocations: “a unique experience among European countries, which should also be replicated by other States and could be expanded within the framework of a collective European effort, so as to reach out to many more beneficiaries. “
Minister Di Maio then expressed the hope that the international community would provide adequate funding to guarantee more humane conditions in the migrant reception centers and that UNHCR, and the whole United Nations system, would respond with a strong commitment, especially for a greater presence of aid workers on the coast.
The Minister expressed his intention to start a “strategic dialogue” with UNHCR, as happens with other donors and to organize a meeting for this purpose in early 2020. He finally announced to Filippo Grandi that Italy will be present at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva in December.