July 27 (UPI) — French President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday a new step to try to control the flow of migrants before they even arrive in Europe.
To do that, he said, France will create centers in Libya to process asylum seekers.
“The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum. We’ll go to them,” Macron said at a naturalization ceremony in the central city of Orleans.
Macron said the centers will be ready “as soon as this summer.”
France offered asylum to 20,620 refugees in 2015, according to the EU’s statistics agency, Eurostat, more than any other EU nation except Germany.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimated 112,027 migrants from northern Africa and the Middle East traveled across the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year through Wednesday. A total of 2,378 people have drowned or are missing, the U.N said.
Last year, 362,653 arrived in Europe by sea, according to U.N. data.
“The other European countries are very reluctant. We will try to do it with Europe, but France will do it,” Macron said. “The aim is to ensure pre-processing of requests, rather than letting people cross the Mediterranean at the risk of their lives.”
Earlier this week Macron hosted peace talks in Paris, where Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Gen. Khalifa Haftar, commander of the rebellious Libyan National Army, agreed to a cease-fire and new elections.