Analytical papersReports and estimates

Rome Conference: The Beginning


On Saturday, July 23, 2023, an international conference was held in Rome to discuss illegal migration across the Mediterranean at the invitation of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, And the presence of the Tunisian President “Kais Saied” in addition to the Libyan delegation consisting of the Prime Minister of the National Unity Government, “Abdelhamid Dabaiba”, And the President of the Presidential Council, “Mohammed Al-Menfi”, In the presence of participants representing more than 20 countries, Agreed to provide the necessary funding to support development projects in what Meloni called the “Rome process”, which will last for several years – according to what she stated -, Meloni also welcomed the pledge announced by UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed to provide $ 100 million for the project. “The next step is the convening of the donor conference,” she said.

The aim of this conference – as stated by the sponsoring country through the Prime Minister “Meloni ” – was “to launch an international roadmap for the implementation of concrete measures and actions for growth and development in the Mediterranean and Africa. and address the root causes of irregular migration flow, Defeat the criminal activities of smugglers, While working to find solutions to protect the environment and face climate challenges.”

This initiative aims as well, To restore Italian diplomacy to its role in the Mediterranean, By launching a multi-pronged and multi-year roadmap, With tangible and achievable commitments, By participating countries, especially in North Africa, in the fields of development and combating migration, It is another step presented by President Meloni herself, To promote the principle of comprehensive diplomacy to deal with crises, With an integrated approach aimed at building multiple and long-term companies – according to the advertiser.

But , This conference was preceded by a series of meetings and visits conducted by Meloni since the beginning of this year 2023, The main goal was And the declared one is to fight illegal immigration and reduce it, Because of the danger and direct threat it poses to the State of Italy, and submit several projects and proposals to address the problem, At the levels of transit and source countries and attempt to settle migrants in their countries or transit countries, In direct cooperation with the two most important countries for the transit of migrants through the Mediterranean routes towards southern Europe, They are Libya and Tunisia.

The beginning of the story:

The beginning of these meetings that Meloni had with Tunisia and Libya, At a time when Tunisia is trying to carve out a place for itself in the face of the influx of illegal immigration through joint coordination with the European Union, We find the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba”, rushing to strengthen Libyan-Italian relations, Doing his best to prove his government’s ability to do what would stem the flow of migrants to Europe, Principled of its keenness to find common ground to address many common issues that serve the interest of the two countries, Among them is the issue of illegal immigration, which worries the Italian state in particular, and the European Union countries in general.

Partnership with Libya and Tunisia: A model for building a relationship with North African countries:

Reviewing the recent Tunisian government movement, We find that it included official visits of leaders and officials from the European Union countries to Tunisia and vice versa, Where there were two consecutive visits during the second week of last June of the Italian Prime Minister, “Giorgia Meloni” to Tunisia, The second was accompanied by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte. Namely, the most prominent, It gave an important indicator of the level of development of Italian-Tunisian relations, On the subject of illegal immigration and ways of cooperation between the two countries, Especially since Italy has finally emerged in the position of a desperate defender of the interests of the Tunisian state, The last of these meetings was the visit of Tunisian President Kais Saied to Paris at the invitation of French President Macron, To participate in the “Paris Summit for a New Financial Decade”

And the outcome of those moves, EU leaders have recently begun to study an agreement with Tunisia aimed mainly at combating migration and controlling smugglers’ networks. Through which he intends to grant Tunisia this year, Boats and mobile radars, and cameras and vehicles to help it strengthen the control of its land and sea borders.

As the plan, Targeting Tunisia in long-term financial assistance of 900 million euros, and assistance worth 150 million to be disbursed “immediately”, and a $105 million immigration management package in 2023, The European Union has also submitted its proposals aimed at strengthening police and judicial cooperation to combat smugglers’ networks.

Affirming the Italian Government’s serious desire to create prospects for effective cooperation to confront this crisis, The Italian government recently signed an agreement with the Tunisian government. Italy expressed its willingness to increase the proportion of legal immigrants from Tunisia, For its part, it will work to increase the number of legal Tunisian immigrants who are able to come to work in agriculture and industry, By signing legal labor agreements, In return for pledges made by Tunisia to exert more efforts to combat the phenomenon of illegal immigration, It is known that the European proposals included facilitating the repatriation of Tunisians residing illegally in Europe to their country, The EU should fund the “voluntary” repatriation of sub-Saharan migrants via Tunisia.

In doing so, It has become clear the European orientation through which it seeks to transform North African countries from lands and transit corridors. to lands for settlement and settlement, This caused severe congestion on the Tunisian street, Especially since he is living in the shadow of a stifling economic and financial crisis.

It is worth mentioning that, Tunisia has witnessed the past period hundreds of Tunisians in popular demonstrations, In the city of Sfax against illegal immigrants punctuated by riots, The Tunisian authorities fear the expansion of the demonstrations and the increasing reactions to the unprecedented influx of migrants to Tunisia. Aware of the reality and fragility of the political and economic situation in the country, The latest moves come less than a month after one of the worst disasters of migrant boats sinking in the Mediterranean. Which started from the east of Libya – specifically the city of Tobruk.

Concurrently With the speed of the Tunisian steps, Mr. Abdelhamid Dabaiba, Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity, with an official working visit to the Italian capital Rome, Wednesday, June 7, 2023, In it, a declaration of “good intentions” was signed in order to strengthen cooperation in the field of security between the Minister of Interior in charge of Major General “Imad Trabelsi”, and the Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Italy, Matteo Piantidosi.

This visit was an extension of the visit made by the Italian Prime Minister, “Giorgia Meloni”, Late last January to the Libyan capital – Tripoli accompanied by a high-level government delegation, The announcement in this visit came to emphasize the intensification of joint cooperation in the field of border security, and combating illegal immigration at sea and desert, In accordance with international standards and in line with human rights, In addition to me, Exchange of information and experiences on combating human trafficking gangs and migrant smuggling, and provide technical equipment to ensure the security of Libya’s southern borders, Specifically initiatives to provide technical support to the Libyan border guard service, and discussed carrying out joint naval exercises, Completion of agreed training courses to improve the capacity of the Libyan Coastal Security Department, Continue the supply of boats and technical equipment in the context of an integrated support project for the Department of Migration and Border Control in Libya funded by the European Union, With an emphasis on supporting the efforts of the Libyan Ministry of Interior in combating crime using modern systems.

The Dabaiba government is trying to pursue the illegal immigration file, aware that international efforts to combat the flow of migrants to Europe are looking for alternatives that lead to tangible results. And that the disaster that occurred in mid-June off the coast of Greece, which led to the drowning of more than 79 people in addition to a large number of missing, It had a bad impact on the level of plans and programs designed to combat the flow of migrants to Europe, She highlighted the weakness of efforts in it, Being random processes, It did not limit the large flows coming from the south and clearly exposed Libya’s weak capabilities in combating illegal immigration.

It should be noted here that, Security sources in the southern region talk about the entry of migrants through the southern desert areas did not stop, It has even been noted that there is an average of 400 migrants on a daily increase, They arrive on regular flights.

Figures show that migration flows are illegal, It increased significantly in late 2022 and the beginning of this year, Ministry of Interior data has revealed, reported the arrival of more than 20,000 migrants, During November to December of the year 2022, compared to about 13,000 during the same period in 2021, During the first ten days of 2023, Italy has recorded the arrival of about 3,800 irregular migrants to its southern shores. compared to less than 400 migrants in the same period in 2022. Many migrants are subjected on their long journey to harsh conditions, sometimes up to torture and detention. Hundreds of them are often dying.

In the midst of this atmosphere, “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba” seeks to quickly follow up his files, which are related to his internal, regional and international understandings, which directly strengthens government control, Last June, to give orders to the heads of the internal security services, And the municipal guard and the passport and customs and intelligence departments, The need to replace all their employees at the port of “Ras Ajdir” with other new elements and to provide him with the procedure that has been done firmly and quickly, Which some considered related to what was reported about the Tunisian security services deporting many African migrants near the Libyan shores and borders, To relieve pressure on the Tunisian state, And its attempt to export the crisis outside its borders, Others saw it as an attempt to prove to international actors, including the Italians, that the Government of National Unity controls all land and sea ports in the western region. And its ability to be a real partner in addressing the file of illegal immigration.

Outcomes of the Rome Conference:

Based on the above , The issue of settling migrants in North African countries has become something that the Italian government and the European Union do not hesitate to discuss with officials from those countries. Especially in North Africa, And that the promises and inducements made to support the survival and continuity of the current governments, It is an important key used to press in making the localization file a reality, Through a series of steps and actions that include partnerships, incentives, support and advocacy for those governments.

The most important outputs of the Rome Conference held on July 23, 2023, Emphasizing the importance of cooperation between Europe and Africa in addressing the causes of illegal migration, With an attempt to govern the phenomenon of migration.

The attendees stressed that the Rome conference is a “turning point” in building real partnerships between Europe and Africa in addressing the problem of migration. The conference aims to “build a more just and prosperous future,” As stated by the President of the European Commission, As the launch of the “Rome process”, will be to address the root causes of the immigration file, While stressing Europe’s commitment to provide the necessary funding for the “development of the countries of origin and transit”, Through joint planning and implementation of initiatives and projects in ” transit and source countries “, By promoting six key sectors: agriculture, energy, infrastructure, education and training, health, In addition to water and general hygiene, With emphasis on strengthening cooperation in the field of border control, and tackle smuggling and human trafficking, With an emphasis on respect for the human rights of refugees and migrants.

The President of the Presidential Council, “Mohammed Al-Menfi”, also stated in his speech that Libya’s position on the problem of migration, is that a security approach alone is not enough, The root of the problem must be addressed from source and transit countries, By financing sustainable development, While enhancing border control security capabilities

As for the Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity” Abdul Hamid Dabaiba”, He stated on the sidelines of the conference that “the vision of the Libyan state does not include any settlement of immigrants.” While stressing that “Libya is considered transit zones only”, He also stressed “Libya’s demand for international support to address the migration file security, politically and materially.”

A previous statement by Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said, “We will support the operational capabilities of Libya and Niger to fight human traffickers and provide concrete alternatives. We will carry out activities in Libya to support the educational system, This creates new opportunities for migrants and the communities that host them.”

Adding that the Migration Fund programs have been updated for 2023, It aims in particular to strengthen Italy’s action along the route and central Mediterranean, To this end, a package of measures will be launched to be implemented in Libya and Niger”, “We have allocated 16 million euros, 8.5 million euros of which for three projects in Libya, and 7.5 million for three other projects in Niger.”


  • The ceiling of demands raised by Tunisia in addressing the file of illegal immigration can only be described as a level of maneuver to achieve the best economic and political gains. and addressing the difficult conditions that the state is going through, And that the Tunisian maneuver is still trying not to cut the lines of communication, It even signals to the European Union the possibility of formulating advanced understandings in particular, It can be said that it has succeeded in this so far, The successive visits of European officials are evidence of their conviction that there is a real opportunity to exploit the conditions that Tunisia is going through in terms of human rights violations and restrictions on freedoms. by which Kais Saied’s practices against his opponents are described, And wishes the EU to turn a blind eye to it, And to understand the difficult circumstances in his management of the state.
  • Tunisia’s attempt to deport and push irregular migrants to the Libyan borders and shores, Perhaps it is one of the motives behind the insistence of the Dabaiba government to change the technical staff that manages the Ras Ajdir port, And an attempt by the government to prove its ability to impose security and stability, It is part of its willingness to tackle the flow of migrants at the Libyan border.
  • The level of engagement between the Government of National Unity headed by “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba” and the Italian state witnessed a level of advanced relations that exceeded the issue of illegal immigration, to economic prospects related to the oil and gas sector, infrastructure projects and reconstruction file, And the announcement of the opening of airspace and aviation between the two countries, The Government of National Unity seeks to invest it in a real way to serve the idea of trying to achieve unprecedented stability after the February 17 revolution. To be exported in favor of the presidency of the government, whose president, “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba” seeks to prolong the life of his government, and its survival as much as possible, And in any way.
  • Tunisia’s latest approach to illegal immigration, Through which it seeks to achieve a number of gains and help find solutions to the unprecedented levels of African migrant population, It is the subject of prosecution and follow-up by the Libyan state, Tunisia is now seen by observers as preceding Libya and becoming the main transit country in the region to Italy on boats within the waves of illegal immigration from the regions of Zarzis and Sfax, According to official data issued by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, reported the influx of nearly 49,000 migrants to the Italian coasts from the beginning of January to May 2023, Most of them come from sub-Saharan African countries, They used Tunisia as a transit point.


  • Talk about the crystallization of new international visions and strategies on migration-related issues, Officials and decision-makers in the Libyan state cannot overlook it, Rather, the requirements of Libyan national security require working with all seriousness to develop plans and programs related to all scenarios proposed and expected from major countries. which target the countries of the region, Perhaps what was presented on the website of the Libyan Center for Security and Military Studies, With regard to illegal immigration and resettlement issues, Evidence of the suspicion and reservations felt by large sectors of municipalities, actors and official and non-official bodies regarding the work and activity of international organizations in Libya, and its role in preparing the ground for the processes of settlement and integration of irregular migrants, Whereas, what was presented was key to understanding some of the proposed European arrangements to address this file, The organization “Arabachi” was one of the examples given by the center, whose performance is shrouded in a lot of mystery, The Italian Foreign Minister’s statement is another evidence of what European countries are thinking about to address the illegal immigration file and mention resettlement in various forms.
  • The numbers of illegal immigration seekers who have already arrived on the coast of southern Europe have doubled. It is imperative for officials in the Libyan state to pause carefully to monitor the high levels of the number of migrants. And review its domestic and foreign policies in this serious file, And study the phenomenon of Tunisia becoming an important corridor for migrants in terms of causes, consequences and potential effects.
  • The level of coordination desired by the Tunisian government, Which was expressed by its president, “Kais Saied”, in his contact with the Libyan Prime Minister, “Abdul Hamid Dabaiba”, He asked that there be a collective effort, And joint work in dealing with the file of illegal immigration, The Libyan government cannot leave it or ignore it because it may force the Tunisian state to initiate understandings and pledges that do not serve the Libyan interest, This leads to practices and procedures that harm safety and national security, foremost of which is the re-deportation of illegal migrants to Libyan territory to get rid of them, which actually began after the recent events in Sfax.

To download the file, click here

This content is also available in: العربية Français Türkçe Italiano

Back to top button