The proposal drafted by the European Commission’s executive body involves allowing asylum seekers into Europe under a resettlement program, which was introduced in 2015 at the height of a major refugee crisis.
“We need to open real alternatives to taking perilous irregular journeys,” European Union Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told a news conference in Brussels.
The commission said it has set aside about $590 million to support the resettlement effort, with member states free to participate in the scheme on a voluntary basis.
According to the EU’s executive arm, increased focus will be put on resettling vulnerable people from Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia.
“Europe has to show that it is ready to share responsibility with third countries, notably in Africa. People who are in genuine need of protection should not risk their lives or depend on smugglers,” Avramopoulos said.
Most migrants from Africa opt for the perilous sea journey across the Mediterranean, using dinghy boats. Thousands die annually trying to make the crossing.
The main departure point is Libya due to the country’s political instability that has created a void. Human traffickers take undue advantage to rip desperate migrants of money to help them make the journey.
The EU has already resettled 23,000 people from refugee camps in countries outside the EU under the scheme, mainly Turkey and Jordan, which were overwhelmed with people fleeing the war in Syria.