The EU’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is to visit Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco amid an Italian-led plan to set up migrant reception centres.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Thursday (12 March) after a meeting of the bloc’s 28 interior ministers, Avramopoulos said
“I intend to visit Tunisia and Egypt, of course Morocco is included in my agenda, in order to create a zone in the area to fight smuggling and irregular migration”.
His tour coincides with an Italian-led drive for the EU to create refugee reception centres in northern Africa and, possibly, in Sudan and Niger.
“It’s about a humanitarian mission which would allow Europe to do screening and to dismantle a huge human trafficking market,” said Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano.
The AP news agency reports that interior ministers from France, Germany, and Austria are keen on the idea and that Avramopoulos will also visit Vienna to flesh out details.
Italy is pressing the issue amid ever greater numbers of Mediterranean migrant crossings. Around 220,000 people attempted the dangerous route last year, with most setting sail from war-torn Libya.