The benefits of well-managed migration and mobility within and between countries and continents can be many. If properly managed, it can positively contribute to economic development in both sending and receiving countries and regions within countries – this very idea is one of the building blocks of the European Union's own internal market. Migrants can transfer skills and remittances to their home, boost local labour supply and fill skill gaps where they are employed.
All this requires sound legal frameworks and policies: for the protection and empowerment of migrants and their families, and for enhancing the developmental impacts of migration.
The EU has co-funded the preparations of the Sierra Leonean Labour Migration Policy through the project "Support to Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa (FMM West Africa)." This support is testimony to the priority that we give to strengthening regular migration.
Today we congratulate the Ministry for reaching this crucial stage and thank the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, the International Organisation for Migration and the International Labour Organisation for their collaboration in delivering this project.
As you all know, migration is a complex topic with many facets. Europe has been faced with a large-scale crisis of irregular migration in recent years, leading to the tragic deaths of thousands who tried to cross the Mediterranean sea and were stranded in often inhuman conditions.
In November 2015 the Valetta Summit brought together European and African States in an effort to strengthen cooperation in the area of migration and address the current challenges and opportunities. A lot of progress has been made since then.
We have significantly reduced irregular arrivals in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean since 2016. The EU has also drastically reduced the loss of life in the Mediterranean. But tragically, nearly 2,500 persons have still died this year, so our efforts must continue.
It is important to note that Europe continues to show solidarity. Last year alone, our Member States resettled or granted asylum to over 720,000 refugees – three times as much as the United States, Canada and Australia combined. Europe, contrary to what some say, is not a fortress. Europe is and intends to remain the continent of solidarity where those fleeing persecution can find refuge.
The European Commission will present a new set of proposals very soon with an emphasis on returns, solidarity with Africa and opening pathways for legal migration.
Europe needs to act in partnership on the root causes of migration: poverty, climate change, lack of democratic spaces, violations of human rights, opportunities for life.
For this, dialogue with Africa is important: all across the continent the EU is discussing directly with our partners – in government but also with local authorities, civil society organisations and international agencies on how best to invest in the sustainable development of countries and of communities.
We have to recognise that migration and displacement within Africa remains much more significant than migration out of Africa. In our view regular migration – within and outside the continent – needs to go hand in hand with creating perspectives of economic growth in our partner countries and building a solid base for their sustainable development.
This also lies at the heart of the bilateral cooperation of the EU with Sierra Leone, which amounts to a total of EUR 376 million for the period 2014-2020. Two of the sectors on which we concentrate are working towards stronger economic development of the country as a whole: education and agriculture/food security. In addition, we provide direct support to the budget of the government to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth and to assist the Government to graduate from fragility by achieving its peace-building and state-building goals.
I believe today's event can be an important step towards complementing long-term development of Sierra Leone with well-managed migration.
Ar wish una fine discussion tiday en tumara.
Una all Tenki.