POZZALLO, Italy, 9 September 2016 – In the second in a series of visits to migration hotspots across Europe, a senior delegation of OSCE parliamentarians today wrapped up a visit to Sicily, where they witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by refugees, migrants, aid workers and authorities related to the ongoing migration crisis impacting the continent.
Noting that Italy is doing more than its share in terms of hosting refugees and migrants, Swiss parliamentarian Filippo Lombardi, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, stressed the need for greater responsibility-sharing among all of Europe and better co-ordination of law enforcement efforts to combat crimes related to the crisis, including human trafficking.
“There is an obvious and urgent need for more equitable responsibility-sharing and better integration measures across the continent to ensure that migrants can contribute to society,” Lombardi said. “As one of the primary entry points to Europe, Italy and other nations on the Mediterranean Sea’s northern shores have for too long been expected to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden dealing with the influx of migrants and refugees. This needs to change.”
“It is also necessary to dismantle the criminal networks that profit from the migration crisis,” he added, pointing out that those preying on the most vulnerable are only exacerbating the problem and must be held accountable.
Lombardi and eight other members of the OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration met with officials from the Italian Interior Ministry, Port Authorities, UN Refugee Agency, International Organization for Migration, Save the Children, and the Italian NGO Doctors for Human Rights (MEDU) in a fact-finding mission intended to inform recommendations to be presented to governments, parliaments and the international community. It follows a similar visit by members of the committee to Calais, France, in May, and will be followed up with a visit to Greece in the coming weeks.
The delegation to Sicily was hosted by Italian parliamentarian and Ad Hoc Committee on Migration Vice-Chair Guglielmo Picchi, who commended the work of the authorities and reiterated the pressing need for more support and responsibility-sharing.
“The authorities and aid workers in Pozzallo, Catania and other hotspots are doing exceptional work, but there is a clear need for more support,” said Picchi. “Quite simply, the reception centers are over-burdened and the lack of a coherent policy of migration management from European capitals has created a state of limbo for too many migrants and asylum-seekers.”
He urged European countries and international organizations to work collaboratively in developing a coherent, equitable and humane response to this challenge, including through increased burden-sharing and funding for the countries most affected.
In addition to Picchi and Lombardi, members of the parliamentary delegation to Sicily included OSCE parliamentarians from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Norway, and Spain. Members of the delegation noted that the OSCE remains a useful and appropriate body for consideration of migration challenges due to its comprehensive approach to security. They urged governments to utilize the tools of the organization in dealing with the various facets of migration, including related political and security matters, economic issues, and human rights and humanitarian concerns.
The OSCE PA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration was established following a unanimous decision taken by the Standing Committee at the OSCE PA’s Winter Meeting on 25 February 2016 in Vienna, and met for the first time during the Annual Session in Tbilisi, Georgia, in July.
For more information, including interview availabilities, please contact OSCE PA Programme Officer Farimah Daftary, who is accompanying the delegation, at +45 6010 8890 or [email protected]. Media inquiries can also be directed to OSCE PA Head of Communications and Press Nat Parry, at +45 6010 8177 or [email protected].
Photos from the visit are available on the OSCE PA’s Flickr page.
Additional information on the OSCE PA's work on migration, including an interview with Ad Hoc Committee Chair Filippo Lombardi, can be found here.