Valletta Summit on migration – Malta, 11-12 November 2015

Published: 12 November 2015

Public Statement

By Garry Conille, IFRC Under Secretary General, Programmes and Operations, on behalf of the International Movement of the Red Cross and Red Crescent



Working with and for vulnerable migrants and focusing on their needs, is one of the long-standing traditions of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. We strive to adopt an integrated and impartial approach, combining immediate action for migrants in urgent need with longer-term assistance and empowerment.

We support renewed efforts to address the root causes of migration. Persons should not be forced into risking their lives and those of their families to flee even greater risks in their homes and communities. The determinants and consequences of migration flows, be they rooted in armed conflict, poverty, social strife, political turmoil, economic hardships or ecological deterioration are incredibly complex. Social and economic distress and the lack of services and opportunities for development constitute push factors for migration and have informed the Red Cross Red Crescent’s approach in reducing the underlying causes of vulnerability through its work along the relief-to-development continuum. Of course, building resilient societies should be an end in itself, not just a means to avoid migration. If migration concerns inspire greater investment in local resilience this will be a very positive outcome of the present situation, but resilience efforts should remain holistic in their approach and not steered toward keeping people planted in their homes.

We call on States not only to devote resources in researching and identifying concrete measures in addressing the underlying causes but to also develop mechanisms to identify and address vulnerabilities of migrants along migratory routes. Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are present in all countries and are scaling up to offer humanitarian support at all points along major migration routes, from country of origin, to transit and arrival. We count on the cooperation with your governments as we reach for this goal.

In this context, while we welcome the decision to address the exploitation and trafficking of migrants, we strongly assert that anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking efforts should not put in jeopardy the rights, needs and lives of those being smuggled nor to hinder their access to international protection. The State’s responsibilities, safety and dignity of all migrants should be the cornerstone of our approach.

In particular, the Red Cross Red Crescent specifically requests that humanitarian organizations as relevant be afforded unmitigated access to all migrants, in order to


provide them with humanitarian assistance and tracing services. Current legislation which obstructs or even criminalizes the provision of humanitarian aid to migrants, regardless of their status, should be revised.

We also call on States to ensure that full and fair procedures are available for the determination of asylum claims, even in situations of large-scale migration, and encourage them to take practical steps to reduce delays in assessing requests for entry from all migrants, such as through enhanced consular presence, simplified procedures and accessible embassies in third countries.

As we approach the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in December this year, we remind states of their responsibilities, and that many of the steps we are calling on today have been articulated in commitments made at the 31st International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. It is essential that we work together to ensure their full implementation. By its nature and mandate, embedded in the Fundamental Principles, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement can ensure impartial assistance based on need and vulnerabilities.

While migration poses important challenges, migrants have also made enormous positive contributions to the cultures, economies and vibrancy of societies around the world. The story of migration over time is very much the story of human history. Many of us in this room were likely the benefits of migration at some point in our family history. In this light, we hope to work closely with all of you to ensure that the humanity, dignity and contributions of those now on the move are fully recognized.