The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has inaugurated this Sunday in Rome the first Conference on Development and Migrationin which representatives of the Mediterranean countries –except France and Spain–, the Middle East, the Gulf and the Sahel participated, as well as the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyenand the President of the European Council, Charles-Michel. The objective of the Italian Government is to extend to other countries the agreement signed between the EU and Tunisia to stop the arrival of migrants to Europedespite criticism from humanitarian organizations for the deterioration of human rights in the African country.
During her speech, Meloni stressed the need to fight irregular immigration by increasing cooperation with countries of origin and transit, and proposed the creation of a fund “for development whose management is decided through the contribution of those who use the resources.” «Supporting refugees is a duty from which no one can escape. Those who flee from wars and catastrophes have the right to security, but this right cannot imply the right to be welcomed everywhere. Therefore, we must strengthen financial support to those who are hosting a larger number of refugees,” said the Italian Prime Minister.
The objective of this first international conference, which Meloni named the “Rome Process”, is to replicate the Bilateral agreement recently signed between the EU and Tunisia with which Brussels will finance the African country in exchange for border protection, despite the denunciations of international organizations, which accuse the Tunisian president, Kais Saied, of abandoning hundreds of migrants in the desert and launching a racist campaign against sub-Saharan Africans that has caused a wave of violence in the country. The controversial agreement has been claimed in Rome by Ursula von der Leyen before the presidents of Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Mauritania, as well as the heads of government of Malta, Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Jordan, Algeria, Niger and Lebanon, and the representatives of Greece, Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The President of the European Commission defended the “creation of alliances” against human trafficking and strengthening judicial and police collaboration between the two ends of the Mediterranean to stop illegal immigration flows.
During the electoral campaign that brought to power a year ago the right-wing coalition led by Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy vowed to curb irregular immigration. However, since the beginning of the year some 80,000 people have arrived on the Italian shores, the majority coming from Tunisian shores, compared to the 33,000 who did so the previous year. “We do not want the Mediterranean to be a cemetery for people who leave their homes, we want it to be a sea of peace and progress,” claimed the Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani.
In the last 10 years, the Mediterranean has become the world’s deadliest migration route. More than 27,000 people have lost their lives, according to IOM data. “Europe has learned nothing from its complicity in the egregious abuses committed against migrants in Libya,” Human Rights Watch denounced.