Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has called for concrete initiatives “such as the setting up of European humanitarian corridors” to enable the European Union to “leave behind emergency management” of migration crises.
In a speech in the Italian Lower House on Monday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called for solidarity from the EU on matters of migration. He noted that such solidarity has been "announced but not yet implemented." Conte said that he had "strongly conveyed this vision to major European leaders and will continue to do so through the [Italian] government that is being created." Conte called for European leaders and partners nations to work together on "concrete initiatives," and avoid the pitfalls of treating migration as a task for "emergency management."
Conte stated that the Italian government was already working on this but that action from other European countries, in line with Italy's approach, would be welcome. One of those actions was the setting up of European humanitarian corridors. In his speech, Conte promised ''consistent legislation'' on immigration and changes including eliminating the levying of fines for private rescue organizations conducting operations at sea. Conte promised to abide by observations regarding migration made by President Sergio Mattarella when he signed the law last month drafted by the previous government.
The controversial package, drafted by former deputy premier and interior minister Matteo Salvini, built on the security-and-migration decree approved last year; it was aimed at spearheading the ex-government's closed-ports policy for private rescue ships and putting that policy into law. That law included levying fines of up to one million euros and legislating for the impounding of vessels if and when private rescue ships entered Italian waters and ports without permission.
Paolo Naso, the coordinator of Humanitarian Hope, the program for refugees and migrants promoted by the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy, hailed Conte's proposal on humanitarian corridors. "We are happy that premier Conte has proposed European humanitarian corridors," Naso said. "We have been organizing humanitarian corridors from Lebanon for years through the Sant'Egidio Community, [a Rome-based Catholic charity]," said Naso, stressing that corridors are ''the only [possible] response to [the occurence of] deaths at sea and violence in Libya."
Naso promised that the Federation was ready to immediately support a European humanitarian corridor from Libya. "At the same time, we are asking for a clear change in measures that have hindered and criminalized NGOS running search and rescue missions at sea," Naso added. "People are forced to risk their lives and travel by sea exactly because there are no legal and safe pathways, like humanitarian corridors, to reach Europe."
The Community of Sant'Egidio also applauded Conte's proposal in a statement. The organization said it was "right and appropriate" to go beyond emergency measures to deal with immigration and "support measures in favor of integration. It is important that the prime minister has spoken in favor of humanitarian corridors, in particular European corridors, that have long been requested by Sant'Egidio together with Italian Protestant Churches, to save thousands of people, [many of whom are] victims of violence in Libya."
The statment concluded: "It is necessary to incentivize legal pathways -like the system of humanitarian corridors that have enabled over 2,600 people to reach Europe so far [including some 2,000 in Italy]- because they represent the most effective method to fight human trafficking."