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EU chiefs to discuss asylum camps


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#1    Talon

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Posted 29 September 2004 - 09:53 PM

EU chiefs to discuss asylum camps

European justice and home affairs ministers are to begin discussions on whether asylum seekers could be processed outside the European Union.
Germany is expected to revisit the idea of transit camps, first proposed by the UK government 15 months ago.

Back then, Germany, among others, gave the plan an icy reception.

But now German diplomats say something simply has to be done about the large numbers of people risking their lives to cross by sea from Africa to Italy.

The idea is to have processing centres, possibly in countries such as Tunisia or Libya, where asylum-seekers could go in the first place, or be taken to after being picked up on the high seas.

Legal problems

That is different from the original UK proposal - which had been to remove at least some asylum-seekers within the European Union to these camps.

Still though, opposition to any such plan is likely to be intense.

Many countries within the EU are sceptical, as are organisations such as the United Nations and Amnesty International.

They say that the camps would face insurmountable financial, logistical and legal problems.

The two-day meeting starts on Thursday.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3701590.stm

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#2    Talon

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 04:11 PM

Concerns over EU 'transit camps'

Some EU members have raised concerns ahead of talks on whether asylum seekers could be processed outside the bloc in so-called "transit camps".
Spain has said care must be taken to ensure Europe does not "allow itself any moral backward steps".

A plan envisages setting up processing centres - notably in North Africa - where cases would be considered.

Meanwhile, more than 400 more suspected illegal immigrants have landed on the small Italian island of Lampedusa.

They arrived on two separate boats during the night. Their precise countries of origin are not clear, though some are said to be from Africa and the Middle East.

Under the plan expected to be put forward by Germany during the two-day meeting of European ministers on Thursday and Friday, those crossing into the EU illegally by sea would also be taken to the new centres.

Some EU states are likely to mount strong opposition to the plan. The UN refugee agency has also cast doubts on the proposal.

The agency says it is unclear if such a system could guarantee people's basic rights.

Spanish Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said: "We must be very sure that the initiative will respect the human rights of refugees, their dignity as human beings."

Schily's plea

The idea of transit camps was first proposed by Britain 15 months ago, and the German government is now expected to revisit the proposal.

On the eve of the two-day meeting of EU interior and justice ministers, German Interior Minister Otto Schily urged his colleagues to back the plan.

"We are jointly of the opinion that the conditions in the Mediterranean call for a solution that stops illegal immigration," Mr Schily told the home affairs committee of the German parliament.

"We have to stop people coming to Europe illegally, risking their lives. We need to work out a concept that has the joint backing of the EU," he said.

Germany and also Italy - which is a springboard for many illegal immigrants to get into the EU - are the key forces behind the asylum camp plans, the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague reports.

The idea is to have processing centres, possibly in countries such as Tunisia or Libya, where asylum-seekers could go in the first place, or be taken to after being picked up on the high seas, correspondents say.

That is different from the original British proposal - which had been to remove at least some asylum-seekers within the EU.

'Insurmountable' problems

Opposition to any such plan is likely to be intense, our correspondents say.

Many countries within the 25-member EU remain unconvinced.

The plan has also been criticised by organisations such as the UN and Amnesty International.

They say that the camps would face insurmountable financial, logistical and legal problems.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3702634.stm

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#3    Talon

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Posted 01 October 2004 - 04:07 PM

EU set to launch 'transit camps'
By Tim Franks
BBC correspondent in The Hague  


The European Union has agreed to launch five pilot schemes in North Africa to help deal with the flow of asylum seekers to Europe.
At a meeting in The Hague, ministers agreed to set up five reception centres - in Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania.

In recent months, tens of thousands of migrants from Africa have attempted to cross the Mediterranean in small boats.

The move is significant because it was proposed by the European Commission.

The proposal by officials at the heart of the EU carries more weight than it would if it were to come from one or two member states.

Mood for action


The details of the schemes are still sketchy.

The European Commission and the Dutch will both fund the five pilot projects across Africa.

The UN High Commission for Refugees will take a lead role.


It is not known yet when the schemes will start, but an EU official said that the mood at Friday's meeting was that work should begin as soon as possible.

There are potential problems.

Some EU member states want these transit camps to operate only after the EU itself has agreed a common asylum policy.

Other countries, such as Germany, say there is no time to lose.

And one of the countries suggested as a location is Libya - which has not signed up to the Geneva Convention on refugees.

Sceptical


What is certain is that the original British idea, first mooted last year, of repatriating would-be refugees from inside the EU back to their continent of origin, is no longer on the agenda.

But human rights groups are sceptical.

Amnesty International has said that there are unanswered questions as to what jurisdiction will apply in these centres and what will be the quality of asylum procedure.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3707770.stm

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#4    Talon

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Posted 01 October 2004 - 04:08 PM

More migrants reach Italian soil
By David Willey
BBC Rome correspondent  


Another 800 illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The Italian authorities are organising an airlift to transport them to reception centres on the Italian mainland and in Sicily.

However, the authorities in Rome insist that most will eventually be sent back to their countries of origin.

People-smugglers have dumped thousands of refugees on Lampedusa, sometimes forcing them to swim to shore.

At least four boats crammed with hundreds of illegal immigrants have been escorted into port by coastguards and allowed to dock in Lampedusa during the past 24 hours.

The skipper of another vessel informed port authorities by satellite phone that he had broken down and needed assistance.

Migrant tide

Local facilities for feeding and sheltering thousands of new arrivals this summer are overloaded.

The authorities are being forced to charter planes and ferries to get them off this small island, which lives principally from fishing and tourism.


Lampedusa is the nearest geographical arrival point in the central Mediterranean for would-be immigrants seeking to enter the European Union by sea from North Africa.
The relentless tide of illegal immigrants landing at random on Italy's southern shores is having a political fallout in Rome.

Some right-wing politicians argue that the government's immigration policy has failed.

Italy recently signed an agreement with Libya aimed at halting the activities of people smugglers operating from Libyan ports.

But so far there is no sign that stricter new regulations on immigration are having a deterrent effect, despite official government figures showing that expulsions of illegal immigrants carried out during the past year are running at record levels.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3707252.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato




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