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Two-Day Conference on Immigration Wraps Up in Sicily

At the end of a two-day conference on immigration, delegates from European and African countries reaffirmed their conviction that the challenges posed by migratory flows require a global approach and the joint commitment and close cooperation of countries of origin, transit, and destination of migrants.

For two days at a conference titled "Migration and Dignity: Together for a Mediterranean Migration Policy," representatives of European and African nations discussed ways to improve collaboration on migration management.

Italian Foreign Undersecretary Giuseppe Drago says the conference - which closed Tuesday - was an excellent opportunity to share views and information and to understand the problems faced in countries of origin in sub-Saharan Africa.

Drago says new information emerged, like the fact that some countries - including Tunisia and Malta - have gone from being a transit country to a destination country. He says Niger is a transit country which has huge problems dealing with the millions of people that cross the country. He says Ghana has a migration of quality. Many degree holders leave the country in search of better opportunities in Europe.

The meeting in Pozzallo, Sicily, was organized by the International Organization for Migration and by the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry. Attending the meeting were European delegates from Austria. Italy, France, Malta and Spain and African delegates from Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia, as well as representatives from the European Commission and United Nations agencies.

Delegates agreed that greater cooperation is required to create the conditions that will allow migrants to integrate legally and successfully into their new working and living conditions.

Drago says discussions focused on the need to exchange information between countries of destination and those of origin. He says accurate information must be provided so migrants are aware of the risks and pitfalls of irregular migration. He says all efforts should be made to ensure that people who want to migrate are not caught in the nets of traffickers and criminals who violate their dignity and exploit them.

Delegates said migrants also require information on the opportunities and rules of legal migration and on employment prospects. They discussed support policies by destination countries that will allow migrants to be better prepared for their future lives in their chosen country.

Other discussions focused on the need to finance sustainable development projects in the countries of origin that will help ensure stability and create prospects in these countries to alleviate the migration pressure. Delegates also agreed on the negative consequences of the departure of highly qualified nationals and said programs need to developed that will lead to a return of lost talents.