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Ahead of the conference, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, announced €60 million to support Somali refugees in Somalia and Kenya. The event also contributed to preparing the Valletta Summit which will deal with migration and will be held on 11-12 November.
Speaking to the conference, Federica Mogherini stressed the importance of tackling the root causes of the crisis rather than just the symptoms. She said that African countries were often countries of origin, transit and destination for refugees.
She also highlighted her recent trip to Ethiopia and her discussions with representatives of the African Union on the importance of cooperation on refugees.
Somali refugees displaced for over two decades
"Today's focus on Somali refugees is crucial; in particular, for the following two reasons: First, this is one of the world's most protracted displacement situations, as UN High Commissioner António Guterres has highlighted", said Mogherini, "It has lasted more than two decades, affecting three generations of Somalis and leaving more than two million people either internally displaced or as refugees. Secondly– and this is a positive development - thanks to the unprecedented efforts by Somalia and its people themselves, the region and the international community, the country is moving in the right direction towards a more stable federal state; it cannot lose momentum."
The whole Region is involved, she underlined: "We are very grateful to Ethiopia and Kenya – first and second largest refugee hosting countries in Africa respectively – for hosting large numbers of refugees and in particular Somali refugees. Even if the media attention currently may be elsewhere, this challenge has to remain high on our political agenda and should not be forgotten. "
She vowed that the European Union is - and will remain - a strong supporter of Somalia becoming a viable federal state in line with the New Deal Compact of 2013 which is seen as a key to success as Somalia has ownership of the process and is committed to internal and regional stability.
Looking ahead to November she said: "In Malta we expect to agree on concrete actions to maximise the development benefits of migration and to address root causes, to better organise legal channels of migration and mobility, to ensure international protection for migrants and asylum seekers, to intensify the fight against criminal networks engaged in migrant smuggling and human trafficking and to step up our cooperation on return and readmission."
She also said that “the world is facing an unprecedented magnitude of people on the move, conflicts and crises multiply, poverty and inequalities grow, climate change and humanitarian disasters destroy, destabilise large part of the world. Human rights violations and poor democratic systems push people to look for societies where they can aspire to live in dignity and peace.“
The Valletta summit will see the launch of the European trust fund to support African countries dealing with border control, fighting human smugglers, and to help in creating job and education opportunities.
The €60 million pledged by the EU will address two key areas. First, a €50 million programme will be put in place to support the sustainable and durable reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons in Somalia, for example by increasing access to basic services, enhancing livelihoods and reducing vulnerability in areas of return and departure. Secondly, the EU will finance a €10 million programme for northern Kenya designed to provide relief and better opportunities for Somalian refugees who find themselves in particularly vulnerable situations when returns are not yet possible.
Federica Mogherini speech to African Union: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luyNz985Mug