1 dead, sev­eral hurt in fire at mi­grant cen­ter in Paris

EU of­fers more funds to Africa curb mi­gra­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PARIS:

French po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing a fire that broke out in a mi­grant work­ers’ cen­ter near Paris that left one per­son dead, sev­eral in­jured and forced the evac­u­a­tion of 300 peo­ple. Nan­terre pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice said the fire started around 3.30 am yesterday in the sub­urb of Boulogne-Bil­lan­court, west of Paris. The Paris fire­fight­ers’ press of­fice said six peo­ple were saved “from a cer­tain death” af­ter be­ing res­cued with lad­ders and 13 peo­ple suf­fered mi­nor in­juries af­ter in­hal­ing toxic smoke. Nearly 300 peo­ple were evac­u­ated and the fire was quickly ex­tin­guished.

Paris po­lice later said one per­son died, with­out elab­o­rat­ing. Paris fire­fight­ers said three peo­ple were se­ri­ously in­jured when they jumped out of the build­ing’s up­per win­dows to es­cape the flames. It was un­clear whether the per­son who died was among those three.

Prime Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve promised to in­ves­ti­gate and ex­pressed his “sol­i­dar­ity” with the vic­tims in a mes­sage posted on Twit­ter. In­ves­ti­ga­tors have yet to de­ter­mine whether the fire was ar­son.

The Euro­pean Union of­fered Niger 610 mil­lion eu­ros ($635 mil­lion) on Thurs­day to cur­tail mi­gra­tion from Africa through the Mediter­ranean to Europe and said it was seek­ing more such money-for-mi­gra­tion deals ahead. Some 1.4 mil­lion refugees and mi­grants ar­rived in Europe this year and last, and the EU wants to cut back on the un­con­trolled in­flux of peo­ple.

Niger’s desert city of Agadez is a pop­u­lar waysta­tion for peo­ple try­ing to cross the Sa­hara to reach Libya and even­tu­ally Europe via Italy. This year has be­come the dead­li­est on record for those seek­ing to make the jour­ney.

The EU has al­ready of­fered sim­i­lar schemes to Sene­gal, Ethiopia, Nige­ria and Mali, as well as to Afghanistan, Jor­dan, Le­banon and Turkey, among oth­ers. On Thurs­day, EU lead­ers agreed in Brus­sels they would seek to en­gage more African coun­tries in such collaboration. The bloc has also strength­ened con­trol of its ex­ter­nal bor­ders and is try­ing to de­port more peo­ple who make it to Europe but have no case for asy­lum.

But they re­main di­vided over how to share the bur­den of car­ing for those asy­lum-seek­ers who are al­ready in the EU. More than a year of bick­er­ing over how to dis­trib­ute them among EU states has pro­duced no re­sults so far. The EU lead­ers, meet­ing for their fi­nal 2016 sum­mit, said their aim now was to over­come the dif­fer­ences by mid-2017.

That is all but cer­tain to prove dif­fi­cult. Italy, Greece and Malta - the coun­tries where refugees and mi­grants land af­ter cross­ing the Mediter­ranean - de­mand those out­side the main mi­gra­tion route take in some refugees as well.

They are backed by wealthy coun­tries like Ger­many, Sweden and Aus­tria, which re­ceive by far the most of those who make it. But east­ern EU states, in­clud­ing Poland and Hun­gary, refuse to take in any, say­ing that would carry se­cu­rity risks and would change the make-up of their so­ci­eties.

Other EU states have also dragged their feet. Fewer than 9,000 peo­ple have now been re­lo­cated from Greece and Italy un­der a de­ci­sion dat­ing back to Septem­ber 2015. It was sup­posed to cover 160,000 peo­ple. — Agen­cies

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