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3rd meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group

Article published on Swiss Confederation website on 11/13/2017

Central Mediterranean Contact Group

The Central Mediterranean Contact Group facilitates the exchange of information among European and African countries affected by migration via the Central Mediterranean route. The Contact Group was established in Rome in March 2017 at the initiative of Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.

The Contact Group held its second meeting in Tunis in July. Since then, the priorities have been further discussed in various forums and multiple measures have been taken. Since the beginning of the year, for example, over 14,000 people have been rescued at sea with the help of the Libyan coast guard.

But the fundamental problems large numbers of migrants are facing in the region have not yet been solved. It is the common responsibility of the international community to ensure that refugees and vulnerable migrants are afforded the protection they need.

Third meeting of the Contact Group in Switzerland

Switzerland is actively involved in discussions within the Contact Group and is working to ensure that it continues to meet. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, has therefore proposed that the third meeting of the Contact Group be held in Switzerland. This meeting will take place in Bern on 13 November 2017.

In close cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Switzerland underlines the need for protection measures for migrants and refugees who are currently in Libya or are trying to reach Libya. The objective is the adoption of a declaration setting out measures to ensure the protection of migrants and refugees, including:

  • Improving conditions in detention centres in Libya
  • Support for voluntary return to countries of origin
  • Ensuring safe and regular migration routes for refugees
  • Combating smuggling of migrants

The ministers responsible for migration policy from Algeria, Austria, Chad, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Libya, Mali, Malta, Niger, Slovenia, and Tunisia, as well as the EU Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, the EU External Action Service and the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union have been invited to the meeting in Bern. IOM, UNHCR and ICRC representatives will also attend the meeting for the first time.

Switzerland’s commitment

Switzerland is helping to combat smuggling of migrants, protect migrants and refugees, and promote peace in Libya and along the migration route. Strengthening asylum and protection structures in third countries is a priority of Switzerland’s migration policy. For example, Switzerland is supporting IOM projects aimed at enabling migrants to return voluntarily and in safety and dignity to their homeland and to facilitate their reintegration.

Furthermore, Switzerland’s international cooperation in North Africa and various sub-Saharan regions is helping to create long-term alternatives to irregular migration and to address the causes of forced migration and flight.


Declaration of intent

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