In the picture, the conference held by the Sovereign Order of Malta. Photo credit: Maurizio Brambatti/ANSA
In the picture, the conference held by the Sovereign Order of Malta. Photo credit: Maurizio Brambatti/ANSA

Migration requires a complex and collective ''wall-less'' response using humanitarian and diplomatic means, the Sovereign Order of Malta has said at an event in the Italian capital.

Migration flows are in need of humanitarian action in the Mediterranean, diplomatic action and the promotion of reception and integration activities across Europe, the Sovereign Order of Malta (SMOM) said in a Rome event. It added that solutions to migrants issues must be complex and collective and not based on walls. 

The SMOM brought together in the Italian capital those working in the humanitarian field as well as experts and diplomats to reflect on Pope Francis's message and the organization's actions as concerns migrants and refugees. 

Sister Angel's story 

The Rome meeting began with the showing of photos of migrants being rescued in the Aegean Sea. ''I can assure you that it is difficult to see, to understand,'' Sister Angel Bipende said, a SMOM doctor involved in the sea rescue of migrants.''We rescued so very many people: women, children in rubber dinghies that are like toys. They burst if you stick a pin in them.'' 

Sister Angel said that she had seen children drown and pregnant women die, that she had helped women give birth on ships and dinghies, where human beings "become nothing, a number''. Life ''is a gift'', she said, ''and so why should I let someone else die at sea when that person reaches out to me, asking for help? This is what made me get on these boats''. 

Efforts by the Order of Malta 

''There are'' solutions to problems linked to migration in Europe, Stefano Ronca, secretary general of the SMOM's foreign affairs department. ''They are not easy solutions. They are not walls or barriers, and we are not saying that borders should no longer exist. However, the problem should be dealt with through complex, collective solutions.'' ''It is unthinkable that a single country can solve the problem. It would be a precarious solution that would not work over the long term,'' he added. 

The concept was reiterated by Mauro Casinghini, director of the Italian Rescue Corps of the Order of Malta. ''Italy is good at rescues and we are becoming good at reception (of migrants, ED.), but we have not yet managed as an international community to sit down around a table to speak about the problem''. 

SMOM offers assistance in countries of origin, accompaniment of migrants on migration routes, rescues at sea, medical training of the Libyan Coast Guard, and reception in Europe. Moreover, ''we are doing a great deal of work with our diplomatic offices to help the weak, both at the bilateral level and with the United Nations, with which we are involved in drawing up some Global Compacts,'' Ronca said. 

In this context, the role of ''information that avoids stereotypes is key, not only for narrating the events but also for democracy,'' ANSAmed chief Patrizio Nissirio said during the event. Nissirio is also the head of the Infomigrants project for ANSA. ''The key is to manage, govern, and inform ethically'', including on the serious risks that migrants face during their journeys, he added, since ''often migrants are unaware of what awaits them''.

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