EU to relocate 40 000 immigrants within union

2015-05-26 20:34
Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa receive water as they wait at a detention centre in the Libya’s capital Tripoli. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa receive water as they wait at a detention centre in the Libya’s capital Tripoli. (Mahmud Turkia, AFP)

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Brussels - The European Union will seek to shift the migration burden away from Italy and Greece by relocating 40 000 asylum seekers to other EU countries, according to a draft document seen by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The relocation proposal, to be unveiled by the EU's executive Commission on Wednesday, would see new Syrian and Eritrean asylum seekers shared among 23 of the 28 member countries over the next two years. Britain, Denmark and Ireland will not take part.

The move comes as the number of desperate migrants crossing the Mediterranean to get to Europe continues to rise, with more than 80 000 landing so far this year. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that 1 820 other migrants have died or gone missing on that journey.

The influx has left countries like Italy, Greece, Malta, Germany and Sweden carrying the biggest burdens.

Under the emergency relocation plan, which would have to be endorsed by member states and the European Parliament, countries "will receive €6 000 for each person relocated on their territories" from EU coffers, according to the document.

Germany would accept the most asylum seekers over the two years - a total of 8 763 - while France would take in 6 752. Spain, which faces migration challenges of its own, would also take a significant share, accepting 4 288 people in need of international protection.

The commission is also set to announce a proposal to resettle 20 000 people from outside the EU who have been identified as being in need of international protection. They would be shared among all 28 member states over the next two years based on a distribution index.

Earlier on Tuesday, the IOM urged the EU to accept far more than 20 000 asylum seekers.

"The 20 000 quota is commendable. We're glad for it," IOM Director General William Lacy Swing told EU lawmakers, but he added that Europe "needs to go much, much further".

Swing said the "drivers of migration are such that large-scale migration is going to remain a mega-trend of our century."

He said the 20 000 migrant figure should serve as a starting point to "try to build a level of confidence" to go further.

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