Like many colleagues before me, we want to express our most heartfelt condolences to the victims of the terrorist attacks that hit several [parts of the world in the last weeks. At the same time, for Italy, it is important to stress that the topic of today’s debate has nothing to do with terrorism. We have to avoid any kind of linkage among terrorist, refugees, and migrants; on one side, there are the killers, on the other the victims.
Italy aligns itself with the statement by the European Union and wishes to add some national remarks.
I proudly represent a country whose Navy is committed daily to saving human lives at sea. We saved more than one hundred thousand lives last year and, this year, we have continued to rescue over fifty percent of migrants heading toward European coasts. Children are born on board of our naval units. When you are facing a person drowning at sea, you do not ask him or her if he or she is a migrant or a refugee. You save that person and bring him or her to a safe haven.
As a Mediterranean country on the front line of migration and refugee flows, we have supported from the outset the Turkish initiative to raise the issue within the General Assembly, and we commend the President of the General Assembly for today’s meeting and yesterday’s dialogue on the broader theme of how to address global refugees flows. This is not only a European challenge – it’s a global challenge. And I take to this opportunity to express our best wishes and full support for the incoming High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, while paying tribute to Mr. Guterres for his outstanding work in such difficult times.
We understand that there is no quick fix to this phenomenon and that it can only be tackled with a holistic and inclusive approach. We have thus been urging this course of action at the European level so to share this responsibility among European Member States.
We must also view and tackle the issue from different angles. First, we must address the root causes by making strides in development. The implementation and financing of the recently adopted Agenda 2030 are therefore of the utmost importance. Second from a political perspective, we must find diplomatic solutions to the crises and political instability that cause this record number of people to flee their countries. Third, we must remain firm in our commitment to respect international obligations and human rights. Fourth, we must recognize the high degree of interdependence there is when addressing this common challenge and therefore work in close cooperation with first countries of asylum, of origin and transit to be as effective as possible. Finally, we must fight organized crime responsible for migrant smuggling and human trafficking by dismantling the business models of these networks that exploit migrants and refugees and by promoting regional dialogue. The Khartoum Process, launched during the Italian Presidency of the EU last year, is aimed exactly at these objectives, which are also enshrined in the Rabat Process.
As highlighted by last week’s Valletta Summit between the EU and Africa on Migration, only such an integrated approach and regional dialogue can promote a long-term solution. In this respect, Italy has welcomed, from the start, the Commission’s initiative to establish the Valletta Trust Fund. As in the case of the Madad Trust Fund for Syria, we believe in the added value of this instrument that will translate into action-oriented initiatives enabling stronger collaboration with our African partners. Above all, the Trust Fund is a concrete way to address their expectations. For this, Italy will contribute 10 million euros to the Fund and will consider further contributions. We believe there is a specific area where the Fund can be particularly useful. It is the area of resilience – between emergency and development – and its strengthening, as it is crucial to creating stability and mitigating the factors pushing people to migrate. The Trust Fund has an enormous potential to boost resilience through actions aimed at promoting socio-economic development, job opportunities and generating income, with a special focus on youth, women and local communities. We fully support this approach.
Migrants and refugees are indeed persons with an untapped potential. Most of them are highly motivated people whose dream of a better life has brought them to overcome endless journeys, rough seas and crowded boats, putting their lives at risk in the hope of a better future.
This is why Italy believes that migrants, refugees and diaspora communities are key to development for both countries of origin and destination. Migration should thus be given top priority among the new Sustainable Development Goals and their means of implementation. In this regard, Italy has been a forerunner in enhancing the role of remittances as a crucial tool for development in countries of origin and for the integration of migrant communities. Remittances can also be a vital tool for financing the new Sustainable Development goals. But above all, we need to realize that today more people are fleeing home than at any other time since World War II. This requires a greater global effort in relieving the burden of those few countries faced with the mass influx of asylum seekers and refugees, and Italy is doing its part working earnestly on their resettlement.
I thank you, Mr. President.