LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers discussed on Saturday the possibility of setting up EU centers for refugees outside Europe as a way to deal with the migration crisis, but the EU’s top diplomat said it would require “enormous resources”.
Allowing refugees to request asylum in the Middle East and Africa could help stop thousands of people attempting the perilous journey to reach Europe.
European Council President Donald Tusk has called for such reception centers, or ‘hotspots’, to be built close to war zones “outside Europe, where refugee camps already exist”.
“We discussed the issue of external hotspots,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference after EU foreign ministers met their Turkish peer, Feridun Sinirlioglu, whose country hosts nearly 2 million Syrian refugees, some of whom make the sometimes fatal sea crossing to EU member Greece.
Mogherini said the sheer number of people likely to convene on such centers to lodge asylum requests would present a huge challenge.
“We cannot destabilize countries that are already facing enormous challenges when it comes to camps and refugees in the communities. And this would require enormous resources from our side to set them up,” Mogherini said.
“The countries that might host them would need a 100 percent guarantee that those that are entitled to asylum get asylum in the European Union,” she added.
As well as Turkey, Lebanon has 1.1 million Syrian refugees and Jordan more than 600,000, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
Reporting by Robin Emmott and Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Robin Pomeroy