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Statement by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, on the Foreign Ministers conference in Rome

06.07.2017

Prior to his departure for the Foreign Ministers conference in Rome, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, issued the following statement today (6 July):

In the first six months of this year, more people than in any other year arrived in Italy from Africa in search of protection and better living conditions. Criminal people‑smugglers base their business model on human suffering. People in search of protection are still dying in the Sahara and Mediterranean.

At the invitation of Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, we and our African and European colleagues, as well as representatives of the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), will discuss how we can provide particular support to the countries currently most affected by large migration flows.

In Europe, the highest percentage of migrants and refugees currently arrive in Italy. The Italian Government has rightfully pointed out that the country needs support in what is a task for Europe as a whole. Germany stands shoulder to shoulder in this regard. Responsibility and solidarity on the part of all EU Member States must go hand in hand.

We also want to share experiences with the important transit countries in Africa. We cannot wait until people are on the Mediterranean to solve pressing issues in displacement and migration. We need to address these issues at an earlier stage. Host communities need our help to integrate refugees and migrants. Regions whose main source of income to date has come from people‑smuggling need stable economic alternatives. We want to help those who would like to return to their home country, away from terrible conditions in a third country, rather than risking their lives on the Mediterranean.

Germany is already very committed. Via the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the Federal Foreign Office is contributing 48 million euros over a period of three years to a regional migration-management project with the IOM. Italy and the European Commission are further partners.

We will provide 20 million euros to the project in 2017 alone.We will not let up in our efforts to provide support. Our aim is work together to bring about fair and good solutions. This will not happen overnight, but we are taking an important step in the right direction today.

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