During Luigi Di Maio's visit to Niger this week, the Italian foreign minister and his Nigerien colleague Hassoumi Massoudou signed a joint declaration, saying they want to strengthen their cooperation on migration issues.
More collaboration on migration issues was one of the topics at the center of talks held by Italian foreign minister Luigi Di Maio during his visit to Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Wednesday (June 2).
The visit to Niger was Di Maio's second visit to sub-Saharan Africa in recent months, after a visit to Mali's Bamako in April. The Italian foreign ministry said in a statement that these visits were "part of the framework of priorities that all of Africa has for Italy, as evinced by the special attention that will be devoted to the African continent by the Italian presidency of the G20."
'Niger is a crucial for regional stability'
"[Niger] is a priority partner for Italy in the Sahel region, crucial for regional stability, for countering jihadist terrorism, and for the management of migration flows towards the Mediterranean. As part of this framework, we are continuing our commitment towards the country in terms of development cooperation, as confirmed by the signing of a new framework agreement on the issue," the ministry said.
During his visit, Di Maio met with his local counterpart Hassoumi Massoudou as well as Interior Minister Alkache Alhada. Di Maio and Massoudou signed a joint declaration for cooperation on migration issues and a new framework cooperation accord on development.
Met with President, PM and UNHCR
Di Maio also met with President Mohamed Bazoum and Prime Minister Ouhoumoudou Mahamadou and visited the headquarters of UNHCR in Niger, meeting with the local directors of the UN agency for the presentation of the Emergency Transit Mechanism for the evacuation of refugees from Libya.
The Italian minister also paid a visit to the Italian contingent of the support mission for Niger, MISIN, which he called the "pride of our bilateral cooperation on the issue of security in the Sahel, which has taken on growing strategic value for Italy's security and interests and has become a true southern border for Europe."
Migration dropped by 70%
"It is a privilege for me," the foreign minister said, "to see on the field one of the most highly qualified tools of our presence in the region. It is here that many of the challenges that we share with our African partners come together: terrorism, climate change, migration, the fight against organized crime, and the pandemic."
"With Niger," he added, "Italy has been able to create a solid, structured partnership. Since the opening of our embassy in Niamey, it is here that Italy has concentrated most of its efforts. Today Niger is one of the main beneficiaries of our development funds."
He said that "thanks to our collective efforts, including within the EU, in recent years migration flows in this region have dropped by 70%."