France will start processing asylum seekers’ applications in Libya as of this summer as part of measures to prevent illegal migrants from making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
The new measure was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron last week following talks with rival Libyan political heads Fayez Al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar.
“The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum,” Macron explained during a visit to a refugee shelter in central France.
Libya has become the main point of departure for thousands of refugees and migrants hoping to reach Europe. As a result, thousands have died in the Mediterranean while riding dodgy boats or rubber dinghies provided by people smugglers.
Migrant smugglers have taken advantage of the lawlessness in Libya to charge desperate people thousands to make the dangerous journey despite the risks.
Around 100,000 migrants have already reached Europe’s coasts so far this year while over 2,000 have reportedly drowned at sea, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Italy has called on European states to do more as it hosts large numbers of migrants and refugees that reach its shores hoping to continue their journey further into Europe.
Rome reportedly expressed a desire to send ships into Libyan territorial waters which Al-Sarraj denied last week to having invited.
“What was agreed with Italy was the completion of the programme supporting the coast guards to train and prepare them with armed capabilities and equipment for saving lives of migrants, and to confront criminal organisations,” a statement from his office said.