- Image 1 of 2
- Image 2 of 2
PARIS – The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):
The mayor of Paris is calling on the French government to pass legislation to provide better humanitarian conditions for migrants in the country.
Speaking to a news conference on Thursday, Mayor Anne Hidalgo evoked the situation of 1,500 migrants living in squalid conditions in a camp in the northern district of the capital.
She proposes to create migrant reception centers in several French cities modeled on the one which opened in Paris in November and has already provided temporary shelter for 12,000 persons.
She also proposed a five-year plan to allocate housing for migrants who seek asylum in all regions of France. French classes would be offered as soon as they arrive.
The government is expected to announce a set of measures to respond to the migrant crisis next week.
Italy is announcing some 30 million euros (US$34 million) in new African investments aimed at preventing migrants from entering Libya or leaving it bound for Europe.
Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano announced the funding at a meeting Thursday of foreign ministers from Libya, surrounding countries and a handful of interested European countries. The meeting was focused on reinforcing border controls with Libya's neighbors, to prevent migrants from ever reaching Libya's lawless shores where smugglers operate.
Alfano said Italy was earmarking 10 million euros for the border-control effort with Niger, Chad and Sudan. Another 18 million euros is slated to fund voluntary repatriations of migrants who reach Libya and decide not to continue their journeys north.
Italy is increasingly insisting it can no longer shoulder the burden of Europe's migrant crisis alone.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen is urging caution about moves by his country to impose controls if necessary at a key border crossing with Italy to counter any upsurge in illegal migrant crossings.
Van der Bellen calls the Brenner Pass a "sensible border" symbolizing Europe's unity. He said Thursday authorities should monitor the situation "without panic," noting in comments to the parliament of Tyrol province that numbers of migrants entering Austria there have not risen despite the large numbers arriving to Italy by boat.
The Brenner is one of the principal routes connecting Italy with northern Europe. Austrian officials have said they are ready to deploy armored vehicles to the crossing to prevent a migrant spillover into Austria, drawing a protest from Italy.
European Union interior ministers have reaffirmed the need to help Libya counter migrant smuggling operations while also endorsing a code of conduct for aid groups that carry out rescues in the Mediterranean.
Ministers meeting in Estonia also agreed Thursday to boost incentives and sanctions for migrants' home countries to accept them back when their asylum bids fail. Sanctions include limiting visa programs if the countries refuse to take the migrants back.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of mounting complaints from Italy that it can no longer shoulder the burden of Europe's migrant crisis. Italy has threatened to close its ports to non-Italian flagged rescue ships in a bid to better redistribute the migrants.
The interior ministers mentioned "disembarkation," issues in their final communique, but offered no details or commitments.
Spain's marine rescue service says it has saved 183 migrants who had been trying to reach the country from north Africa in the past 24 hours.
The service said one of its vessels intercepted a boat with 42 people aboard near the southwestern Trafalgar Cape late Wednesday. Hours later, it said it found another boat with 45 people, including women and children, in the same area.
On Wednesday, the service rescued 96 people in three boats about halfway between Spain and Morocco.
About 50 people were feared drowned in the same area this week after a boat believed to be carrying 52 migrants was found nearly sunken. Three young men were rescued from the rubber boat. The service said Thursday it had given up the search for further survivors.
Amnesty International says Europe has made a dangerous turn on the Mediterranean Sea as it looks to Libya for help in slowing the number of migrants attempting to reach the continent.
The human rights group said in a report released Thursday that Europe's strategy of training the Libyan coast guard to rescue migrants in flimsy boats is "reckless."
Amnesty says that by turning to Libya, a country in chaos that is the jumping-off point for the hazardous journey, the European Union is putting desperate migrants in a double bind.
The organization says they face the risk of dying at sea or grave human rights abuses once they are returned to Libya.
The report says more than 2,000 migrants have died on the Mediterranean this year while over 73,380 reached Italy.