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G20 and Tallin summit: no credible proposal on the issue of migrants

Last week’s two “major” meetings proved to be a failure. Not only was it reiterated that migrants cannot be disembarked in no other place than in Italy, we have also been reprimanded for not having yet finished all our homework, starting with increasing reception capacity and stepping up the repatriation system. The message is clear: less solidarity!

Since the G20 in Hamburg and before the Tallinn summit, no useful, credible proposals emerged to seriously address the question of migrants. Italy’s provocative proposal to close all ports in order to persuade the rest of Europe to show greater solidarity, was not even taken into account. On the contrary, not only was it reiterated that migrants can only be disembarked in Italy, we have also been reprimanded for not having yet fulfilled our assignments, starting with increasing reception capacity throughout the Country and stepping up the repatriation system. The message is clear:

Less solidarity towards those who could pose a risk to our own security.

And since according to “political correctness” the refugees cannot be openly accused, the attack is against their rescuers. The fact that the finger is always pointed at Non Governmental Organizations that are rescuing people at sea, reveals, even to less attentive observers, the adopted strategy, namely:

To identify the weakest one, the scapegoat, in order to divert the attention of the public opinion from the real issues at stake that nobody wants to address.

That is why for the past months we have been witnessing this shameful media flurry that all those involved lend themselves to, in Italy and in the rest of Europe, to the point of passing the message that a code of conduct for NGOs can be an effective migration policy tool. As if to say: once the NGOs have a written document enshrining their best behaviour at sea, the landings of migrants will decrease.

It has become a paradox situation.

As in every summit worthy of its name, also in last week’s meetings the leitmotif was “let us help them where they live”, possibly investing in development, which is generally understood as a panacea of all ills.

Too bad that nobody wants to bear the brunt of informing the public opinion on a set of facts. First of all, even if a Marshall Plan for Africa were adopted, it would impact migration flows in the long and not in the short run. The second, more ambiguous and serious fact is that European governments were supposed to allocate 2 billion EUR to the Trust Fund for Africa. However, to date,  Member Countries have contributed no more than 89 million.

Despite the reprimands and the threats to open infringement procedures against governments that failed to comply with the commitment to relocate migrants from Italy and Greece, it remains a standstill situation, since no political leader is brave enough to tell voters that refugees will be arriving into their Country. Thus all those brought to Italy will continue remaining in Italy with no possibility of leaving the Country, not even to go to the France governed by President Macron, who on June 29, in Berlin, made it clear that it will keep “economic” migrants from crossing Ventimiglia’s border with Italy.

We would like to ask the young President: does this mean that we can relocate asylum-seekers to France?

Against the backdrop of a confused picture, where the only certainty so far is that Italy will have to continue coping with the situation alone, there is a point that appears to meet everyone’s expectations, except for those who have at heart the migrants’ future, namely, the strengthening of border controls at the external borders with Libya.

Moreover, its implementation requires counting on a reliable partner in control of the Country. And at present, Prime Minister El Sarraj cannot guarantee this, thus operations are limited to cooperation with the Coast Guard in Tripoli, the capital of a Country where the respect for human rights is a very flimsy concept.

All that has emerged in the past week’s meetings is reason for serious concern, as it signals not only a lack of solidarity, but also, as Pope Francis pointed out  a few days ago, “dangerous alliances among (foreign) powers that have a distorted vision of the world”, which , “concerns immigrants from world countries and grows worse with the passing of time.”

(*) Caritas Italy Immigration Office

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