The EU’s executive has unveiled plans to resettle at least 50 000 refugees, focusing on people from northern Africa, to bypass smugglers.
Non-EU member states, Malta, Norway and Liechtenstein have also been committed to the resettlement plan. According to the proposal, resettlement would continue from those areas, involuting those from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia.
“Europe has to show that it is ready to share responsibility with third countries, notably in Africa”. “This will contribute to further stabilising migration flows along the Central Mediterranean route”, which mainly involves people making the unsafe crossing from Libya to Italy, said the Commission. Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger – one of the main migrant transit countries in Africa – all border Libya.
Resettlement is managed by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which selects refugees who have a continued need for worldwide protection.
Last year, the main beneficiaries of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement programmes were refugees from Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Somalia.
In a statement, the organisation called on European Union countries to complete the resettlement of the remaining asylum seekers by the end of this year.
The move is part of the EU’s effort to cope with hundreds of thousands of refugees and unauthorized migrants who have tried to enter Europe in recent years, undermining European solidarity as countries bickered over how to manage the problem.
The latter scheme, which ended on Wednesday, saw just 29,000 people out of a planned 160,000 shared out around European Union states to ease the pressure on the overstretched Greek and Italian authorities. “Investing in more legal pathways, both for protection but also for study or work, is therefore essential”, said Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship.
The EU previously had in place a more controversial plan, which ended on Wednesday.
In a separate announcement, the Commission also said it was planning on updating the code governing the 26-nation Schengen zone of free movement. Select nations retain the legal right to hold border checks for six months for security purposes.
According to the statement, the countries receiving the largest numbers of asylum seekers so far are Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland.