Europe - Asylum and Migration: Limiting the Flow

On moral and legal grounds alone, asylum seekers should be at the privileged end of European debates about migration into Europe. Instead, for the second time in two years, the European Union has been considering proposals to set up ‘asylum camps’ across North Africa – and even in Ukraine – to process claims before refugees even enter Europe. Is this just another way for governments to place their international obligations out of sight, or a rational response to a problem that clearly isn’t going to go away?

The World Today Published 1 February 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 5 minute READ

Dr Claire Spencer

Visiting Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London

Proposals to outsource asylum claims to overseas processing centres were first championed by the British government over a year ago and revived, with Italian backing, by Germany’s Interior Minister Otto Schilly in October. The most immediate impetus were the tides – almost literally – of refugees and migrants washing up on the island of Lampedusa. This barely habited outpost of Italy is the closest point in Europe to the Libyan coastline, from where most of the overcrowded boatloads set off.

In the week prior to Schilly’s debate, five hundred people landed there in a single day, and eight hundred others in the previous three days, echoing the chaos that beset the island’s reception centres at the end of August. Around five thousand drown attempting to cross the Mediterranean each year.

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