Number of migrant sea arrivals in EU nearly doubles year-on-year in 2019.
Europe has been facing a large influx of migrants since 2015, and although the number of new arrivals has gone down since that, the issue of accommodating migrants and refugees remains acute, especially for Spain, Italy, and Greece, which often serve as points of first entry into the European Union.
German lawmakers have approved a government plan to declare three North African nations and Georgia safe countries of origin. The move is meant to deter migrants from those countries and streamline the handling of asylum applications. Parliament’s Lower House on Friday voted 509-138, with four abstentions, to back declaring Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Georgia safe countries. However, the government’s plan requires approval by the Upper House, where the country’s 16 state governments are represented. Many of those governments include the opposition Greens, who object to declaring the North African countries safe. Currently, very few citizens of those countries obtain asylum. In 2017, the Upper House shot down a similar move.
Spain’s government will improve conditions at its eight migrant detention centers and build another center as authorities struggle to cope with a surge in arrivals by sea from North Africa, AP reported. Madrid intends to “ensure greater respect for people’s dignity and their rights,” Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said on Friday. The centers are supposed to house migrants who are in Spain illegally for up to 60 days, but that limit is often exceeded and conditions are reportedly cramped. Grande-Marlaska says the detainees aren’t convicted of any crimes and are awaiting deportation. Some centers have witnessed riots and mass escape attempts.