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EU Malta summit adopts plan to stem migration along central Mediterranean route

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-03 23:21

VALLETTA - European leaders agreed Friday on an action plan to stem the migration flow into Europe along the central Mediterranean route during an informal summit in Malta.

EU Malta summit adopts plan to stem migration along central Mediterranean route

L-R, Greek Prime Minister Alexis tsipras, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit a vantage poit overlooking Valletta during a break in the European Union leaders summit in Valletta, Malta, February 3, 2017.  [Photo/Agencies]

According to the plan, priorities will be given to training, equipment and support to the Libyan national coast guard, further efforts to disrupt smuggling business, supporting the development of local communities in Libya, adequate reception capacities and conditions in Libya for migrants and support to international organisations in stepping up assisted voluntary return activities.

"The European Union is strengthening the mainstreaming of migration within its Official Development Assistance for Africa, which amounts to 31 billion euros during this financial period. Some of the actions can be funded within projects already underway, notably projects funded by the EU Trust Fund for Africa as appropriate, which mobilizes 1.8 billion euros from the EU budget and 152 million euros from Member States' contributions," said EU leaders in the Malta Declaration adopted at the ongoing informal summit.

To cover the most urgent funding needs now and throughout 2017, the European Commission has decided to mobilize as a first step an additional 200 million euros for the North Africa window of the Fund and to give priority to migration-related projects concerning Libya.

The external dimension of migration is one of the top issues of the Malta summit.

The Mediterranean route is now the main gateway to Europe, with some 180,000 arrivals in Italy last year.

The number of persons dead or missing at sea has refreshed record each year since 2013, and hundreds have lost their lives in the beginning of 2017, said the Declaration.
"We are determined to take additional action to significantly reduce migratory flows along the Central Mediterranean route and break the business model of smugglers, while remaining vigilant about the Eastern Mediterranean as well as other routes. We will step up our work with Libya as the main country of departure as well as with its North African and sub-Saharan neighbours," it added.

The EU paid more attention to the central Mediterranean route after the figure of asylum seekers nosedived on the eastern Mediterranean route since a EU-Turkey deal took effect last year.

Under the deal signed last March to stem the influx into Europe, all people who are entering Greece illegally on boats from Turkish shores will be sent back, in the case that their asylum requests are turned down.

"We remain committed to the EU-Turkey statement and the full and non-discriminatory implementation of all its aspects, as well as to continued support for the countries along the Western Balkans route," said EU leaders in the Malta Declaration.

The EU also reaffirmed its support to efforts and initiatives from individual member states directly engaged with Libya.

It welcomed the Italy-Libya memorandum of understanding signed on Thursday to curb the flow of migrants to Europe.

Rome has pledged money, training and equipment to help the UN-backed Libyan government to manage its vast desert borders and boost its limited coast guard fleet.


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