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VALLETTA, Malta – The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
A top European Union official says a summit in Malta aims for a deal to better manage migrant flows from Libya across the central Mediterranean Sea toward Italy while still protecting lives.
U.N. and human rights officials have voiced concern that any such deal could include sending migrants, now kept in dangerous, overcrowded conditions in Libyan camps, back to the very dire circumstances they were trying to flee. But EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini says the aim is to "'decrease loss of life at sea and in the desert" of southern Libya along smugglers' routes.
She told reporters as she arrived at Friday's gathering that the summit would also provide "strong support" support to Italy, which has coordinated the rescue of hundreds of thousands of migrants at sea in the past few years.
Human rights concerns are looming over a proposed EU plan to block migrants in Libya.
A one-day EU summit in Malta Friday is discussing how to stop the so-far relentless flow of people fleeing poverty and conflicts in Africa and elsewhere setting out in smugglers' boats launched from Libyan shores. EU leaders want to close down that route across the central Mediterranean, likely through naval and economic assistance to the beleaguered government in Libya.
Advocates for refugees cite inhumane conditions in Libyan detention camps where the migrants are kept.
Doctors Without Borders general director Arjan Hehenkamp says in a statement that "the European Union and its member states need a reality check." The official calls the camps "dangerously overcrowded."