At the invitation of Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, the Foreign Ministers of 15 European and African countries and representatives of the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) met in Rome on Thursday (6 July) to discuss ways to provide better support to the countries most affected by the refugee and migration crisis.
Germany was represented by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, who underlined the particularly difficult situation currently faced by Italy, where almost all refugees from Libya arrive by sea, and assured Italy of Germany’s support in his speech.
Roth described current measures, such as the Federal Foreign Office’s contribution, along with Italy and the European Commission, of 48 million euros over a period of three years to a regional migration‑management project; the further four million euros Germany is providing to IOM for its work in Morocco and Egypt; and the one million euros Germany will provide in 2017 to the project suggested by Italy on measures in African transit countries.
Call on countries of origin to take on responsibility
Apart from financial support, however, Roth underlined the responsibility of countries of origin and transit, which he said must do everything in their power to ensure that people can live in safety and dignity in their home countries so they do not have to undertake the perilous journey across deserts and the sea.
Roth added that there should be a greater focus on paths to legal migration in the future. “Those who want to curb irregular immigration must create a wider range of legal options. The global compacts on refugees and migration to be adopted by the United Nations in 2018 are an important step in this direction. Only in this way can we destroy the cynical business model used by brutal people smugglers,” Roth said after the conference. Helping refugees in need must continue to be our priority. “In the refugee issue, we feel it is our duty to uphold the principles of humanity with refugees and of international solidarity. At the same time, we Europeans are responsible for the safety of our population and the protection of its external borders,” he said.