TAORMINA, Sicily, May 28 (NNN-DPA)--Despite inviting several heads of state from Africa, G7 leaders meeting in Sicily had little to say about the many challenges facing the continent. Migration and terrorism are only some of them.

By holding the summit on the island of Sicily, Italy had hoped to make Africa the main focus of the annual G7 meeting on Friday and Saturday.

"Perhaps the choice (to be in) Taormina and Sicily says much about how important our relations are with Africa," Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said in opening remarks.

Over the past four years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have taken up refuge in Sicily after fleeing war and poverty in their African countries.

Italy was hoping to convince fellow G7 members about the positive effects of legal migration as a means of slowing down migrants' dangerous boat trips via the Mediterranean, but that idea was dismissed by the Americans and the British.

Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, who attended Saturday's session, called on the G7 leaders to take swift measures to end the Libyan crisis.

"The fight against terrorism in the Sahel countries and the Lake Chad region demands that urgent measures be taken to put out the Libyan cauldron," Issoufou said in his opening remarks.

He also berated the leaders of the world's most industrialized countries for failing to fulfill their aid promises to tackle poverty.

His West African nation is one of the poorest nations on earth, with more than 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Niger is one of the main transit points for African migrants seeking to reach Europe through Libya.

"Be it Niger, a transit nation, or the countries of origin, it is only through development that we will prevent illegal migration," Issoufou said.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is one of the four new leaders attending the G7 meeting for the first time, said more needed to be done to support countries like Niger. France has more than 4,000 troops stationed across West Africa.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta was quoted by the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper, as questioning the wisdom of sidelining African leaders from such high-profile meetings when the continent was a focus point of issues affecting the world.

British charity organization Oxfam referred to the G7's tough stance on migration, which has been strongly influenced by US President Donald Trump, as a "scandal."

"This is the scandal of this summit: That G7 leaders could come right here in Sicily on the doorstep of the sea where 1,400 people have drowned this year alone and fly home tonight without doing anything serious about it," Edmund Cairns, Oxfam's policy adviser on humanitarian crises, said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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