THE EU plans to allow only 5,000 refugees for resettlement by asylum seekers in response to the Mediterranean refugee crisis, reports the Guardian. Last year alone 150,000 people arrived in Southern Europe after surviving a trip across the sea.
The measure is part of a package that EU leaders have discussed in Brussels on Thursday. The British newspaper cites a confidential draft conclusion of the summit that outlines the union’s response to the inflow of illegal immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East.
The draft suggests “setting up a first voluntary pilot project on resettlement, offering at least 5,000 places to persons qualifying for protection.” That would be one 30th of the number of immigrants who reached Europe in 2014. This year more than 36,000 of them have arrived in countries like Italy, Malta and Greece, the newspaper notes.
While allowing the few lucky ones in, the EU plans to aid southern European countries establish a system to fast-track asylum seekers. Emergency teems would be deployed to Italy to help register, fingerprint and process applications – so that the bulk of the refugees could be swiftly sent back to their countries of origin. The program is coordinated by EU’s border agency, Frontex.
Aid would also go to Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Mali and Niger to help them better monitor their land borders and intercept would-be refugees before they reach the Mediterranean coast.