Interior ministers from the five largest EU countries appear to be split on plans to set up transit camps in North Africa to process would-be asylum seekers before they reach Europe.
According to French news agency AFP, France and Spain are fiercely opposed to the German-Italian idea, which would see centers set up to assess claims by migrants. Human rights groups, for their part, are also opposed to setting up these camps in North Africa, where they fear proper humanitarian conditions will not be provided. Libya is one of the countries mentioned as hosting such transit camps as many people set off from the Libyan coast to reach Lampedusa, a small island between Africa and Sicily. The Libyan Prime Minister Shoukri Ghanem has however turned down the idea. In an interview published by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera he said: "It does not seem to us [to be] a good idea to put illegal immigrants into camps in certain countries. You must instead help them to remain where they are, and do something about creating jobs." Hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Florence on Saturday to protest against the meeting of the ministers from the so-called Group of Five (G5). The G5 group has gathered regularly since meeting for the first time in Spain in May last year.