Rome, 18 July 2016/ ACP-EU JPA: The Bureau of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly undertook a fact-finding mission to Rome and Lampedusa from 13 to 15 July 2016. The purpose of the mission was to look at how the Italian authorities and other agencies are addressing the influx of migrants and refugees into Italy through Lampedusa, to assess the living conditions, including respect for human rights of migrants and their possibilities of finding decent life in Europe through relocation processes.

The Mission was jointly led by Mr. Netty Baldeh (Gambia), Co-President of the JPA, and Mrs. Michèle Rivasi, Vice-President of the JPA. It also comprised of the following members: Mr. Piernicola Pedicini (MEP), who was with the mission in Rome only, Mrs. Mémounatou Ibrahima (Togo) and Mr. Musa Naib (Eritrea).

The mission started its activities in Rome on 13 July 2016 and met with the following representatives of the City, Government, Parliament as well as international organisations and civil society. Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome; Pia Locatelli, Chair of the Sub-Committee for Human Rights of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Italian Parliament; Benedetto Della Vedova, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Domenico Manzione, Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior; representative of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), and representatives of non-governmental organisations ARCI and Emergency.

On 14 and 15 July in Lampedusa, the mission had meetings with Giusy Nicolini, Mayor of Lampedusa and with some citizens of Lampedusa, followed by the transfer to the multi-purpose frigate “Carlo Margottini” of the Italian Navy, flagship of the Operation “Safe Sea”, on board of which the delegation got an extensive briefing and simulation on the search and rescue operations, as well as on operations of Frontex and Joint Operation Triton. Subsequently, the mission visited the emergency rescue and sheltering centre for migrants and asylum seekers (which became a “hotspot” recently), and facilities for the reception of persons rescued at sea, namely a fast boat of the Coastguard and a deep sea patrol vessel of the “Guardia di Finanza”.

The delegation was informed of the challenges of dealing with the phenomenon of irregular migration in Italy, including its social, political and security aspects. Due to its geographical location, Italy has become the gateway to Europe for people seeking refuge from war and conflict and those leaving for economic reasons from the Middle East and Africa, facing great risk of death, physical harm as well as economic and sexual exploitation.

The delegation commends the Italian authorities, the communities of Rome and Lampedusa and the NGOs for their efforts of rescue, sheltering, relocation and integration of migrants. The mission was impressed by the professionalism and integrity of Navy rescuers, and by the work of civil authorities and nongovernmental organisations assisting in emergency operations in Lampedusa.

It is clear that this wave of migration is a complex multifaceted issue which needs to be addressed at various levels in the short and long term. There should be greater international cooperation among source, transit and destination countries, and to address the political, social and economic drivers of irregular migration in countries of origin. There is need for greater solidarity among all EU Member States, including the revision of the Dublin Convention, in order to equally share the burden of rescuing, sheltering and processing the applications of migrants and asylum seekers, as well as protection of human rights, provision of social support and integration policies.

The delegation stresses the importance of not leaving Italy, Greece and Spain alone in the management of migrants, who should be able to be moved into the rest of the EU through a sound and efficient relocation process.

Moreover, the delegation expresses its full support to the Italian SPRAR relocation scheme, which foresees the integration of small groups of migrants in local communities, which facilitates their smooth integration. In this context, it calls for European funds to be allocated to the local communities receiving migrants, and underlines the importance of using the scheme as a best practice in other European countries.

The delegation also stresses the urgent need to tackle the problem of migrants of minor age, who risk disappearing into criminal networks, or falling victim to slavery and other kinds of abuse. The delegation would also like to underline the special needs and vulnerabilities of women and children migrants, who require special care and protection. It stresses the need for good coordination between services, operations and civilian and military resources in order to achieve satisfactory operational efficiency. The delegation wishes to stress the importance of establishing legal and safe ways of migration as one of the solutions for addressing illegal migration and combating human trafficking and smuggling.

Finally, the delegation would like to express its gratitude to the Italian authorities for their warm welcome and facilitation of various visits, including the offshore rescue operations.

The full report of the mission will be submitted to the Bureau of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly for its approval before being made public.

(Photos from top:Members of the JPA, led by JPA Co-President Netty Baldeh and Vice-President Michele Rivasi, speaking with migrants at a reception centre in Lampedusa;Members of the Mission with the Mayor of Rome, L-R Ms. Michele Rivasi, MEP; Ms. Viginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome; Mr. Piernicola Pedicini, MEP; Ms. Mémounatou Ibrahima (Togo); Mr. Netty Baldeh (Gambia); and Mr. Musa Naib (Eritrea);Rear-Admiral of the Italian Navy Frigate ‘Margottini’ explaining rescue operations to Members/ Photos provided)

Vist ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary website

– ACP-EU JPA Secretariat