International meeting in Bern to ensure better protection for migrants on the Central Mediterranean migration route

Press Release, FDJP, 03.11.2017

Switzerland will host the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group on 13 November 2017 in Bern. Set up at the initiative of Italy, the Contact Group allows European and African countries affected by migration along the Central Mediterranean migration route to exchange information and coordinate their action. Switzerland is hosting this meeting to find better ways to protect migrants. The goal is to improve migrants' living conditions and ensure better protection for them along the migration route. Many migrants fall victim to extortion, threats, ill-treatment, violence and smuggling of migrants. The meeting will take place at ministerial level and is expected to lead to the adoption of a joint declaration.

The Central Mediterranean Contact Group, which was set up at the initiative of Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti, met for the first time in Rome on 20 March 2017. Its second meeting was held in Tunis on 24 July. The ministers attending these two meetings agreed to pursue three priorities: to strengthen the capabilities of the Libyan coastguard, to enhance the protection of migrants in Libya and to improve border controls in southern Libya.

Since then, these three priorities have been further discussed in various forums, and multiple measures have been taken as a result. Since the beginning of the year, for example, over 14,000 people have been rescued at sea with the support of the Libyan coast guard. But thousands of migrants in Libya and neighbouring 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.

Protecting the most vulnerable migrants

The Contact Group allows the states concerned to exchange information and coordinate their actions. 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. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will take part in the meeting for the first time in Bern.

At the meeting on 13 November, Switzerland plans to adopt, together with the other participants, a declaration setting out measures to ensure protection for the most vulnerable displaced persons, such as improving conditions in detention centres in Libya, supporting voluntary return to countries of origin, strengthening asylum and protection structures along the migration route and combating smuggling of migrants.

The meeting is being organised in close cooperation with several federal offices, in particular the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). An official dinner opening the event will be attended by FDFA head Ignazio Cassis on the evening of Sunday 12 November. The working meeting will take place on the morning of Monday 13 November, with opening remarks by the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard.

Media representatives will be invited to a press briefing after the meeting.

Further information

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