In response to the high number of refugees drowned last year when trying to flee North Africa to get to Europe, President of the Germany’s Federal Office for Migration, Manfred Schmidt, said it was about high time to look for new approaches and solutions to the refugee crisis. In 2014, about 3,500 refugees lost their lives in the waters of the Mediterranean trying to reach the shores of Europe in the hope of a better life on the old continent.
Specifically, Mr Schmidt has expressed his support for the establishment of refugee centres managed by the European Union in North Africa. In his opinion, similar facilities could help prevent further tragedies involving migrants trying to reach Europe often using unsafe means of transport. Mr Schmidt thinks that the new strategies of dealing with the refugee crisis should involve both the source and transit countries in order to put an end to the current practice of smuggling. He adds though that the refugees must at the same time be able to obtain protection. “EU reception centres could arise in the extraterritorial area in the Maghreb but there are still many unanswered questions,” he acknowledged.
The biggest obstacle to the establishment of EU refugee centres in North Africa seems to lie in the system of asylum applications in some EU member states. In Italy, for instance, authorities seemed to have been overwhelmed by the high number of refugees last year but the registration of asylum seekers nevertheless significantly improved in 2014. However, out of 160,000 refugees that came to Italy by the end of October last year, only about 43,000 applied for asylum while others left the country immediately seeking the way to Germany.