UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the International Conference on Development and Migration, which took place in the Italian capital, Rome. Image Credit: WAM

ROME: UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated today (Sunday) in the International Conference on Development and Migration, which took place in the Italian capital, Rome.

The conference was inaugurated by Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, in the presence of heads of state, government ministers, and representatives of regional and international organisations concerned with migration and its humanitarian, social and economic impact.

Meloni said Illegal flows of migrants are damaging all countries across the Mediterranean, calling for forging a broad alliance of nations to fight human trafficking.

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Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed and Giorgia Meloni on the sidelines of the International Conference on Development and Migration held in Rome. Image Credit: WAM

'Mass illegal immigration harms each and every one of us'

Meloni said that her government was open to taking in more people through legal routes as "Europe and Italy needed immigration." But she said more needed to be done to prevent migrants trying to make the perilous Mediterranean crossing via unauthorised means.

"Mass illegal immigration harms each and every one of us. No one benefits from this, except criminal groups who get rich at the expenses of the most fragile and use their strength even against the governments," she said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen echoed Meloni's point about offering legal routes into the 27-nation European Union (EU).

The EU and Tunisia, a major departure point for migrants, last week signed a "strategic partnership" deal that includes cracking down on human traffickers and tightening borders.

Europe has pledged 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in aid to help Tunisia with its battered economy, with 100 million euros speficially earmarked for tackling illegal migration.

"We want our agreement with Tunisia to be a template. A blueprint for the future. For partnerships with other countries in the region," von der Leyen told the conference.

International cooperation to safeguard the wellbeing of migrants

The conference focused on the challenges presented by irregular migration and emphasised the urgent need for integrated solutions to address its root causes. Participants stated the importance of intensifying international cooperation to safeguard the wellbeing of migrants and protect their dignity, highlighting the fact that thousands of lives are lost each year through irregular migration. The conference also explored the links between migration and socio-economic development and stability in the migrants’ countries of origin.

Upon his arrival at the conference, which was held at the headquarters of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was received by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

He was accompanied during the visit by a delegation that includes Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Advisor for Special Affairs at the Ministry of Presidential Court; Ali bin Hammad Al Shamsi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for National Security; and Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation.

UAE aid

In his speech on the occasion of the International Conference on Development and Migration, he announced the UAE's contribution of US$100 million to support development projects in countries affected by irregular migration, including backing initiatives proposed in the Rome Process.

He thanked the Italian Republic for hosting the important conference and for inviting the UAE to participate in it.

Joint efforts

He explained that the conference confirmed the participating countries' desire to enhance cooperation, integration, and joint efforts regarding an international issue of great importance and sensitivity, which is irregular migration. This collaboration, he said, serves people’s aspirations for stability, progress, and prosperity.

His Highness added that the conference comes at a crucial stage in the world, requiring greater cooperation and solidarity among nations. He stated that the UAE firmly believes that international collective action and building bridges of cooperation among different countries are the means to tackle shared global challenges and uplift humanity, ensuring a prosperous future for coming generations.

The UAE President stressed that irregular migration, which tragically claims thousands of lives each year, stands as one of the most critical challenges facing the world today. Addressing this phenomenon requires comprehensive solutions rooted in development and stability, he explained, as it is through development that we can achieve peace and stability, both within societies and on an international scale.

Sheikh Mohamed added that dealing with cases of displacement, whether it be asylum or migration, requires strengthening joint efforts to address the main causes through comprehensive development efforts and close cooperation between all affected countries, which include countries of origin, transit and countries hosting migrants, in addition to the support of international and regional agencies and initiatives to build on previous progress in facing these challenges.

He said that climate change is one of the main drivers of irregular migration as it leads to drought, agricultural crop destruction, and increased poverty in many countries. He stated that he was looking forward to meeting participants at COP28 in the UAE later this year, explaining that the climate conference will aim to accelerate international efforts to address the impacts of climate change and support the implementation of the outcomes from previous conferences.

Importance of diplomacy

 Sheikh Mohamed reaffirmed the UAE’s belief in the importance of diplomacy and dialogue as tools for building trust, and that it will continue to support global peace and stability, calling for cooperation for the greater good of humanity.

He expressed his thanks to the Italian Republic for its efforts in coordinating the conference, and extended his wishes for its success in achieving outcomes that serve development, stability, and peace in the world.

The international conference on migration aims to find solutions for migratory crisis and human trafficking and to promote cooperation in the fields of agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education and healthcare.