ROME/NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 1 – Libya and the migration crisis were the issues on the agenda of a telephone call between the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The phone call was the first since Mr. Guterres took the helm of the United Nations on January first, the same date on which Italy started its mandate as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Gentiloni and European Council President Donald Tusk meanwhile held talks in Rome on Wednesday focusing on a March 25 Rome summit on the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. The summit will see frontline roles for Gentiloni, Tusk and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. The pair also discussed Libya and immigration ahead of the
informal EU summit in Malta on Friday, which will focus on migrants.
EU leaders attending are expected to back the latest efforts to curb African migration to Europe through such things as increasing training of Libya’s coastguard and financing for the UN agencies to improve conditions for migrants there.
Today the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano presented a new 200-million-euro Fund for Africa to “reinforce the external border to stop the departure of illegal migrants”. The money was set aside for cooperation, primarily with Libya, Tunisia and Niger, on top of 430 million already available. “Boosting the external border to avoid the departure of illegal migrants” is the “strategic” objective of the Fund for Africa, he said. Italy will provide “equipment, technical instruments and training of local security forces” based on the requests of its North African partners and the effective implementation of the project will be verified, he added.
Asylum applications boomed in the first month of 2017 in Italy, up 41% from January last year, while the number of requests examined by commissions dropped 11%, according to prefect Angelo Trovato, president of the national commission for asylum rights. (@OnuItalia)