A few days after the summit held in Rome between the ministers of seven European and two African countries for the first forum of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group, the Sovereign Order of Malta today hosted, again in Rome, a meeting with Libyan and European ambassadors and representatives of international humanitarian agencies to address the challenges of migration in Libya and to promote political cooperation and national reconciliation.
Amid a situation of great political instability and the proliferation of violence throughout the country, the migrations are still continuing along the central Mediterranean with departures from the Libyan coast. The latest figures indicate a 36% increase in arrivals by sea compared to the same months in 2016 and record a dramatic increase in deaths at sea.
“The approach to humanitarian issues remains unaltered despite the great political divisions,” the Order of Malta’s Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, said opening the meeting in which ambassadors from the European Union (including Italy) and Libya participated as well as representatives of Libyan institutions, delegates of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the International Organization for Migration (OIM),
“As a humanitarian institution we cannot but react in front of the violence and abuse against so many migrants and refugees, especially women and children,” added Albrecht Boeselager. The Order of Malta has recently concluded an initial Search and Rescue training in the Mediterranean, and shortly the doctors of its Italian Relief Corps will return to the San Giorgio ship to repeat this course. The aim of the initiative – under the European naval mission EUNAVFORMED – is to develop capacity building for local authorities to stop human trafficking and reduce deaths at sea.
In this morning’s meeting in Rome, forms of cooperation that could have a positive influence on the humanitarian conditions of migrants and displaced people in Libya, as well as of those of the local communities, were explored. Participants were unanimous in reiterating the need to find inclusive approaches, able to involve not only the Libyan and western political forces, but also the local authorities, severely tested by the instability prevailing in the country.
Together with Forward Thinking, the British think tank, the Order of Malta has already organized other meetings in 2015 and 2016 with a working group of Libyan representatives to face together the challenges posed by migration and human trafficking.