More EU aid for African nations that stop migrants
Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30
The EU is to give more international aid money to African nations that cooperate in intercepting migrants before they cross the Mediterranean.
In a new approach to the migration crisis, the EU is "stepping up cooperation with the home countries and linking development aid with cooperation on taking their nationals back," said Natasha Bertaud, a European Commission spokesman.
African countries through which migrants transit will also be asked to help send them back to their home countries, in return for aid spending.
The EU plans to open migrant centres in Africa, initially Niger, under a policy to tackle the problem "close to the countries of origin" and "build up capacity to take migrants back," Ms Bertaud said.
Economic migrants will be offered the incentive of benefiting from EU aid programmes if they return home.
EU officials will also work at the centres to counter propaganda by people smugglers, who mislead migrants into believing the boat crossing to Europe is short and easy, when in fact more than 1,800 have died at sea this year.
An EU official denied reports that the centres would be refugee camps, saying there was no plan to provide accommodation for migrants.
However, Ms Bertaud said the centres would be located "far from the Mediterranean coast of North Africa" to intercept migrants relatively early in their journeys before it is too late to deter them from embarking on the perilous sea crossing.
She said there would be "no remote processing" of asylum applications at the centres. However, UN officials will be present to identify those "in clear need of international protection.