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    A boat transporting migrants arrives in the port of Messina after a rescue operation at see on April 18, 2015 in Sicily

    Leaked EU Draft Shows Majority of Undocumented Migrants to Be Sent Home

    © AFP 2019 / GIOVANNI ISOLINO
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    The European Union is likely to take in only a few thousand refugees – of more than a hundred thousand that made it to Italy in 2014, a leaked draft summary of an agreement by EU leaders indicates.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) A copy of the document was obtained by the Guardian on Thursday, ahead of an emergency EU meeting on immigration. It revealed that the majority of those who survived the perilous journey across the Mediterranean will be sent back under a rapid-return plan.

    Around 150,000 irregular immigrants, primarily from North Africa and the Middle East, were saved from the sea last year, while some 3,500 drowned, the United Nations estimates. Most of the refugees went ashore in Italy, prompting it to ask for EU assistance in resettling them.

    Poll

    How do you think the Mediterranean migrant crisis should be handled?
    • Send Navy patrols to intercept migrants and escort them back home
      22.2% (264)
    • Carry out search-and-rescue operations and fund refugee camps in Europe
      13.7% (163)
    • Support their home countries to stop migrants from leaving
      50.9% (605)
    • Arrest them when they arrive, and send them back home immediately
      13.1% (156)
    Voted: 2
    The draft agreement also indicates that the EU maritime border patrol agency, Frontex, is unlikely to expand its search-and-rescue operations as demanded by the UN refugee agency. Last year, it launched Operation Triton to patrol within 30 miles of the Italian coast, replacing Italy's own Mare Nostrum where more emphasis was put on saving lives.

    Instead, Frontex will take steps to prevent people dying at sea by destroying vessels used by human traffickers to smuggle them into Europe. EU leaders will also encourage North African states to patrol their own borders, to stop refugees from making the dangerous crossing.

    The draft is expected to be discussed in detail at the upcoming extraordinary summit of EU heads, announced on Monday by European Council President Donald Tusk.

    It comes in the wake of a deadly shipwreck in the Mediterranean in which hundreds of people presumably died after a boat capsized off the Libyan shore. Only 28 people were rescued.

    Related:

    Wealthy Migrants Paying Smugglers Thousands to Flee to Europe by Yacht
    Italy Needs to Improve Migrants Reception, Rules Out Naval Blockade
    EU Leaders Urged to Look at Libya Mistakes as More Migrants Perish at Sea
    Tags:
    migrants, immigrants, North Africa, Mediterranean Sea
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