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EU calls on member states to take in more refugees as more die in sea crossings
Record-high numbers of people are crossing the Mediterranean to flee Africa for Italy and the rest of the European mainland.
By Lucas Rowe
Jan 15, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Italy is straining to accommodate incoming waves of northern African refugees and needs other European Union states to ease the pressure by taking in more refugees themselves, the European Union said on Wednesday. The governing body plans to convene interior ministers from across Europe on Thursday to discuss a "resettlement plan" to find shelter on the continent for 37,000 north African refugees by the end of 2018.
The interior ministers' meeting will take place in Tallinn, Estonia, and will feature a request by Dmitris Avramopoulos, the EU's home affairs commissioner, to participants to make voluntary pledges by mid-September of numbers of refugees they will take in.
Record-high numbers of people are crossing the Mediterranean to flee Africa for Italy and the rest of the European mainland. Many are caught and suffer abusive conditions in Libyan detention centers, and others who make it the sea drown during the voyage. Amnesty International described all of these hardships in detail in a recent 31-page report that blames "failing EU policies" for allowing the refugees' suffering and deaths to occur on European officials' watch.
"This strategy leaves refugees and migrants at serious risk of abuse in a country where no asylum law or system exist and they face widespread violence and exploitation, including killings, torture, rape, kidnappings, forced labour, and arbitrary and indefinite detention in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions," the rights group said.
Around 85,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean in the first half of 2017, a record number. And 2,150 refugees died attempting the crossing.
The announcement comes at a time when many European publics are resisting calls to take in more immigrants. Controversies over immigrant crime and high levels of immigrant unemployment sparked surges in popularity for anti-immigrant parties in France and Germany in recent years and led to Sweden and three other European countries issuing new border restrictions.