ROME, JANUARY 11 – Solidarity with countries on the frontline and a pivot to Africa: meeting in Rome the European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, outlined a two-tracks policy to tackle one of the most pressing emergency of our time: the migration crisis.
“There is a double necessity: an ambitious policy towards Africa and stable solidarity towards member States on the frontline”, Alfano said. Yesterday Italy re-opened its Embassy in Tripoli, sending “a strong message of solidarity towards Libya and its stabilization process”, the Minister added, stressing that both governments are hard at work to strenghten bilateral cooperation on border control and to contrast illegal immigration and people’s smuggling.
Today, as Malta, Europe’s smallest country, is taking the rotating EU presidency, migrations were once again on top of the European agenda. “The dossier is currently blocked by the Visegrad Group of Central European countries, but Malta is determined to push it forward”, said Maltese premier Joseph Muscat in La Valletta, stressing the importance of border security: “We must make sure that those who enter have a right to asylum and that those who don’t are treated differently”, he added after a meeting with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker.
Italy is once again offering a way forward: 500 refugees in Ethiopia will reach Rome legally and safely thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed today at the Ministry of the Interiors by representatives of the Catholic NGO Community of Sant’Egidio, the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), and the Italian government.
This time the refugees will come mostly from Eritrea, Somalia and South Sudan. The initiative follows the spirit of the “humanitarian corridors” made possible last year by the Rome-based NGO along with the Waldensian Church and the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. The latest group of 500 people, mostly from Syria, arrived early in December, but more should follow in 2017, while the Sant’Egidio’s hope is that other religious groups in Europe will follow the initiative. (@OnuItalia)