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Brussels, 13 May 2011

Statement by Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner in charge of Home Affairs, on the results of the Ministerial Pledging Conference 12 May

On 12 May, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström convened a Ministerial Conference, co-chaired with the Hungarian Presidency, to discuss and review commitments and pledges from the Member States and the Associated Countries in respect of the extension of the pilot project in Malta for the relocation to other Member States of persons who are beneficiaries of international protection and the resettlement to Europe of refugees stranded in North Africa. The Conference was organised as the follow-up and concrete implementation of the solidarity statements included in the Council Conclusions of 11 April 2011.

Commissioner Malmström said: "Yesterday's Conference clearly showed that Europe as a whole is able to demonstrate concrete solidarity in times of need. The results of the Ministerial Conference are an important step forward. About 300 relocation places for Malta have been pledged, and over 700 resettlement places for refugees stranded in North Africa. I would like to thank those Member States and Associated Countries who have put forward concrete commitments. I would also like to express my gratitude towards the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for their contribution to the success of this Conference, as well as for the clear commitment they have given to help and support EU Member States and Associated Countries during the process.

The situation is very serious both in North Africa and in Malta. The deteriorating humanitarian situation of refugees who have been stranded in Libya, some of whom have fled over the border to Tunisia and Egypt, is an issue of major concern. These are people who cannot safely be returned to their home countries, and for whom resettlement would provide the only durable solution. The Maltese asylum and reception systems are under great pressure due to the arrival of a high number of persons who might be in need of international protection. We therefore need concrete engagements and expressions of solidarity towards the EU Member States and third countries who are receiving large numbers of people fleeing the war in Libya, as well as towards the refugees themselves.

I strongly encourage new pledges for both relocation from Malta and resettlement of refugees from North Africa. I am confident that other Members States and Associated Countries will make further commitments to express their solidarity in these times of particular pressure due to the crisis in North Africa. At the same time, I am seeking to find a compromise to facilitate rapid progress with the negotiations on the Commission proposal for the establishment of a joint EU resettlement programme. I am convinced that the commitments made yesterday are only the beginning of a joint resettlement effort at the European level."

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