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Statement delivered by Ambassador Inigo Lambertini, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Informal meeting of the General Assembly on the Secretary General’s Report on Refugees and Migrants


Mr. President, Special Adviser AbuZayd,

I thank you for organizing this meeting and for presenting the Report of the Secretary General to us. Italy aligns itself with the statement (to be) delivered by the European Union and wishes to add some national remarks.

We welcome the report. It is a rich and comprehensive document that contains numerous interesting elements and we hope that it will inform the discussion among Member States in the coming months towards the 19 September Summit.

We appreciate that even if looking in the long term, your statement do not forget the urgency of saving people lives. Italy has always been committed to saving lives at sea and we have called for concerted action at the European and International level since many years. Search and Rescue Operations are now jointly conducted by the EU with operation Triton, and it is indeed a success example of regional co-operation. However, Italy is still on the forefront of the emergency and since the beginning of 2016, Italian vessels have saved more than 25 thousand people at sea in search and rescue missions. 65% of all rescue operations in the Mediterranean in 2016 have been conducted by vessels flying the Italian flag.

While being a frontier country, we do recognize however the principle of burden-sharing with our neighboring countries, a principle that should inform this conference. This is why the call to UNHCR to bring the existing efforts for Refugees under a comprehensive framework is much appreciated. Even if our resources are stretched in the effort of offering a dignified, safe, and orderly reception to people coming on our shores, we support resettlement programs as a key tool to save lives and to share the burden with Countries which host millions of migrants and refugees. Earlier today, 101 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Italy from Lebanon through the “humanitarian corridors” corridors program.

We appreciate the distinction between refugees and migrants, however we notice that you duly stressed the importance of protecting particular categories of vulnerable people, regardless of their status. Unaccompanied minors, for examples, must be protected first and foremost because they are children.

We welcome the reference in your report to the lack of protection in International Conventions of people who are compelled to leave their homes due to disasters or the erosion of livelihood caused by climate change.

Italy has been calling for a comprehensive approach to migration for many years. After having launched during the Italian Presidency of the EU, a regional dialogue with the Countries of the Hom of Africa (Khartoum Process), we recently proposed to the European Union the “Migration Compact”, a comprehensive strategy on migrations which includes all the main features recalled in your report. It looks at the long term causes of migration, it requires a true partnership with Countries of origin, but most of all, Mr President, it shows the strong political will of our Government of managed this situation and not being managed by it.

We look forward to hearing more about the Global compact that is proposed in the Secretary General Report.

I thank you, Mr. President.