Euro­pean lead­ers agree on new asy­lum pol­icy

Miami Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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