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Africa

EU unveils migrant quotas

media German navy rescued around 200 refugees off the Italian Lampedusa island, 8 May 2015. Reuters

The European Union unveiled on Wednesday details of a plan for dealing with an unprecedented wave of migrants. The plan includes controversial migrant quotas across member states.

France and Germany would host the highest percentages of the total number of people rescued while trying to cross the Mediterranean, with respectively 14.17 and 18.42 per cent.

The distribution of migrants would be ruled by complex criteria such as national economic output, population, unemployment rates and the number of refugees already in the country.

Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not part of the EU distribution migrant quotas because they have opted out the scheme under European treaties.

Until now, EU states have admitted refugees on a voluntary basis and asylum requests are processed in the country where they land, not the country they are trying to get to.

The EU also plans a relocation scheme for the 20,000 refugees, mainly Syrian, who are in camps for displaced people in the Middle East and North Africa under a deal with the UN refugee agency.

The European Commission said it would table a legislative proposal by the end of the year although it clashed with Britain on Wednesday as the British interior minister Theresa May called for economic migrants to be sent back.

“Such an approach would only act as an increased pull factor across the Mediterranean and encourage more people to put lives at risk,” she said.

More than 5,000 migrants have died over the past 18 months while trying to cross the Mediterranean.

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