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EU states to pump 'sufficient' money to stem illegal migration: Tusk

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-10-20 09:05

European Council President Donald Tusk holds a news conference during a European Union leaders summit meeting in Brussels, Belgium, Oct 19, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

BRUSSELS - Member states of the European Union (EU) will pump "sufficient" money into a trust fund to stem illegal migration from North Africa, European Council President Donald Tusk said here on Thursday.

He made the remarks at a joint press conference with his European Commission counterpart Jean-Claude Juncker, following a first day meeting of the two-day EU summit, which focused on migration, digital Europe, as well as security and defense.

He said EU leaders have agreed on the need to help Italy manage the Central Mediterranean route, which links Libya to Italy and was named as the deadliest route to Europe by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in a study published in September 2017.

"We have a real chance of closing the Central Mediterranean route. That is why we decided that member states will provide sufficient finances for the North Africa window of the Trust Fund for Africa, while the Commission ensures that this money is channeled to stem illegal migration," Tusk said.

"We should see concrete results within the next few weeks," he added.

As Libya is at the forefront of EU's efforts to stem illegal migration in the central Mediterranean route, EU leaders reiterated "the importance of working with the Libyan authorities and all neighbors of Libya to enhance border management capacity," according to the EU summit.

EU leaders also underscored the urgency of supporting the development of the local communities in Libya along the migratory routes."

To consolidate the declining trend of migrant inflow, the European Council also called on all member states to fully abide by the deal with Turkey.

Since the summer of 2015, an unprecedented refugee crisis has been a tough nut to crack for the EU.

Thanks to an "aid for return" deal with Turkey in March 2016, the EU boxed in the inflow of refugees via the eastern Mediterranean route, which saw a 98 percent plunge of arrivals.

However, the EU still bears the brunt of migratory pressure, particularly from the central Mediterranean route.

The IOM, the United Nations Migration Agency, reported Tuesday that 145,355 migrants and refugees had entered Europe by sea up to Oct. 15 this year, with over 75 percent arriving in Italy and the rest landing in Greece, Cyprus, and Spain.

Meanwhile, 2,776 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year, according to the IOM.

A total of 387,895 migrants and refugees reached Europe in 2016, with a record high fatality of 5,143 in the Mediterranean Sea.

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