EU may seek refugee deals with North African countries

Published April 3rd, 2016 - 06:31 GMT
A migrant boy walks at the makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni on March 30, 2016, where thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded by the Balkan border blockade. (AFP/Sakis Mitrolidis)
A migrant boy walks at the makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni on March 30, 2016, where thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded by the Balkan border blockade. (AFP/Sakis Mitrolidis)

The German interior minister expressed his optimism on Sunday that the refugee influx to Europe had peaked, but said deals with North African countries - like the agreement with Turkey - may be needed to prevent new mass arrivals, AFP reported.

The controversial EU-Turkey deal, which goes into effect on Monday, will see Greece transporting Syrian asylum seekers back to Turkey.

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said new arrivals had already dropped sharply to about 140 per day, after taking in more than one million asylum-seekers last year.

"I can say with a great deal of caution that the peak of the refugee crisis is behind us," de Maiziere told the Tagesspiegel am Sonntag newspaper.

The minister added there were still questions to be answered: "This includes the implementation of the negotiated agreement achieved with Turkey, but also a search for solutions in case of possible alternative routes, such as via Libya and Italy," he said.

"If, once more, more people come via this route, we will need to search for similar solutions as we did with Turkey and also enter into negotiations with North African countries," de Maiziere added.

"I could imagine reception centers in North Africa for refugees who are returned from Italy, and in turn a humanitarian admission program with the North African country in question," he said.

He added, however, that much work would need to be done before such an agreement could be implemented.


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