8 February 2017 – The United Nations, the European Union and its Maltese presidency have set out migration as one of their top priorities. The need for solutions, cooperation, partnership and dialogue in order to tackle challenges related to migration were once again emphasized during a Senior Officials Meeting that kicked off today in Valletta, Malta.
“Our presence here is a political statement. We are reaffirming that migration can only be managed effectively through cooperation and partnership”, said the EU High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini in her opening statement. “There are forces all around the world pushing for a totally different approach. An approach based on confrontation instead of cooperation, on building walls instead of building partnerships, on closures rather than dialogue.”
The Valletta Summit on Migration in 2015 brought together European and African Heads of State and Government in an effort to strengthen cooperation and address challenges, but also the opportunities of migration. Leaders participating in the summit adopted a political declaration and the so called Joint Valletta Action Plan. With its five pillars, the plan was designed to address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement, enhance cooperation on legal migration and mobility, reinforce the protection of migrants and asylum seekers, prevent and fight irregular migration, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings and work more closely to improve cooperation on return, readmission and reintegration.
“We value the balanced approach represented by these five pillars aiming to tackle root causes of migration and displacement”, said Barbara Pesce-Monteiro, the UN Secretary-General's representative in Brussels, during her statement on behalf of the United Nations. “We do however notice, one year down the line, that the five pillars and the underlying principles of the Action Plan are not yet fully reflected in the implementing mechanisms”, she said. “These mechanisms have tended to take a more fragmented approach – in terms of geographic scope, thematic focus and the implementing actors. This, as well as making aid delivery contingent on return and readmission, and the trend towards a security-focused approach, is of concern to us. It could seriously undermine efforts to effectively address underlying drivers of irregular migration and forced displacement and potentially exacerbate the conditions that compel persons to migrate in such precarious ways.”
Migrants are present in all countries of the world, and the challenge is not only European. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 26 per cent of the world’s refugee population, and more than 20 million migrants are being absorbed and supported within the African continent.
“Migration is a global human reality that we must manage together”, Pesce-Monteiro emphasized. “In the milestone agreement on the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development in September 2015, all the Member States of the United Nations – including all the States present here today – have recognized ‘the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development’. It is in this sense that all UN member states have committed to implement the ‘Together’ campaign to counter negative narratives and public perceptions.”
So far, the International Organization for Migration, IOM, has recorded 11,010 arrivals by sea to Europe in 2017. According to their data, 255 migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean in 2017.
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