European leaders agree on new asylum policy
PARIS — The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain have agreed on a new policy to grant asylum to vulnerable migrants who apply for protection while in Africa instead of their destination countries.
At a Europe-Africa summit in Paris aimed at finding long-elusive solutions to illegal migration, the European leaders also agreed to help the African countries through which Europebound migrants usually pass with border controls.
French President Emmanuel Macron, the summit’s host, called it the most effective and far-reaching mi- gration meeting in months, though he didn’t say how much the new measures would cost and many specifics remained unclear.
In a joint statement, the four leaders acknowledged the need to initiate a process in Chad and Niger that would lead to the resettlement of “particularly vulnerable migrants” in Europe.
They announced they plan to carry out “protection missions” in the African nations in cooperation with the United Nations’ refugee and migration agencies.
The process would allow migrants to immigrate legally to Europe if they are on an eligibility list provided by the U.N. refugee agency and registered with authorities in Niger and Chad.
The pre-asylum centers would receive European financing, according to a top French diplomat. The official, in keeping with French presidential policy, requested anonymity and would not provide details on the precise locations and procedures for the missions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European countries must clearly define which asylum-seekers have legitimate humanitarian needs and who is fleeing poverty. She called it “very, very important” that the possibility of resettlement is coupled “with an end to illegal migration.”
The African leaders at the summit — the prime minister of Libya’s U.N.backed government, Fayez Serraj, Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — stressed that fighting poverty must be a central part of any migration strategy. They asked for Europe’s help in giving human smugglers legal ways of making money.
Issoufou said that poverty is what drives people to emigrate to Europe and into trafficking, and that it’s important “to find alternatives for the smugglers to leave criminal activity,” such as commerce or farming.