Concluding his visit to Italy, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi commended the country for ensuring access to asylum throughout the COVID-19 emergency, despite the many challenges and growing migratory pressures it faces at its sea and land borders.
Grandi welcomed Italy’s efforts to uphold the principles and processes of refugee protection as well as its constructive approach to improve the balance between responsibility and solidarity underpinning the negotiations on the proposed EU Pact on migration and asylum.
“Italy has confirmed its pivotal role in the reception and protection of refugees fleeing violence and persecution who take the Central Mediterranean and Balkan routes in the attempt to seek safety. The international community must do more to save the lives of refugees taking these perilous journeys”, said Grandi, “Collective efforts by States are essential to save lives at sea”.
“I was encouraged to hear the government emphasizing that a common European approach to questions of asylum and migration is absolutely crucial; and that the proposed pact poses a unique opportunity for an approach that is more comprehensive, better managed and predictable”, Grandi added.
“I would also like to express my appreciation for the support provided by Italy to countries hosting high numbers of refugees – people in need of protection and safety”.
The High Commissioner’s visit to Italy included meetings with President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, Speakers of the Senate and Deputies’ Chambers, Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati and Roberto Fico, and President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi, and the Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
He also met with refugees and members of civil society. “Integration is a major challenge for refugees living in Italy”, Grandi said.
“They spoke to me at length about their priorities and concerns, and I acknowledged their desire to be heard and seen as making an active contribution to their host community”.
Appealing for more international solidarity with countries of transit and asylum, the High Commissioner calls on all States to increase and reinforce safe and regular pathways to asylum, such as resettlement and humanitarian corridors.