Switzerland to host int’l meeting on Mediterranean migrants

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Switzerland said Friday it would host the third ministerial meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group on Nov. 13 in Bern, adding that the meeting was expected to lead to the adoption of a joint declaration.

The goal for the meeting is to improve migrants’ living conditions and ensure better protection for them along the migration route, the Swiss government said in a statement.

“Many migrants fall victim to extortion, threats, ill-treatment, violence and smuggling,” the statement said.

According to the Swiss government source, Algeria, Austria, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mali, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, and Tunisia, as well as the EU Commissioner for migration and home affairs, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the EU External Action Service have been invited to the meeting.

Representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will also attend.

Set up at the initiative of Italy, the Central Mediterranean Contact Group met for the first time in Rome in March 2017. It allowed for European and African countries affected by migration along the Central Mediterranean migration route to exchange information and coordinate their actions.

The second meeting was held in Tunis in July.

At the two meetings, ministers agreed to pursue three priorities: strengthen the capabilities of the Libyan coast guard, enhance the protection of migrants in Libya, and improve border controls in southern Libya.

Since then, over 14,000 people have been rescued at sea. However, thousands of migrants in Libya and neighboring countries are still facing a drastic situation which requires continued efforts by the international community.

“By hosting the third meeting of the contact group at ministerial level, Switzerland intends to support these efforts and to stress the urgent need for protection measures for refugees and migrants in Libya and along the migration route,” the Swiss government statement said.

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