France has started an initiative to conduct initial checks directly in Africa on asylum requests made by migrants seeking to reach Europe. This is following discussion this past summer on the possible activation of hotspots to check migrants from the southern banks of the Mediterranean in African countries, France has taken the initiative on its own and is conducting checks directly in Niger.
Office Français de Protection des Réfugiés et Apatrides (OFPRA) employees have begun to assess asylum requests in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Experts say that this will help 'save' them from the Libyan hell and the dangerous Mediterranean crossing. Asylum seekers whose requests are accepted by the French interior ministry will later be transferred to France safely.
First 25 to arrive by January
An initial group of 25 refugees that the UNHCR has managed to transfer to Niger from Libya will be received in France ''in January at the latest'', after French authorities have conducted all necessary ID checks, OFPRA director Pascal Brice said. The refugees are Eritrean, Ethiopians and Sudanese and include 15 women and four children. Once in France, they will ''very quickly'' received refugee status, the expert said, noting that it is a matter ''above all of saving people coming out of a true hell including torture, rapes, and the kidnapping of children'', he said. This first evacuation will be ''a miracle'' said Alessandra Morelli, HRC chief in Niamey. The 25 welcomed into France may seem miniscule against the 40,000 the UNHCR say are in Libya, ''but we are sure that there will be other operations'', she added.
'Join France against violence', Macron French president Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter to urge other ''partners to join France in this mobilization to prevent horrible violence suffered along migration routes''. Last summer the French leader called for creating centers in Africa for conducting checks similar to the current 'hotspots', to as to assess asylum requests directly on the continent. In late August, an initial summit was held at the French presidential palace on the issue in the presence of countries directly affected by the migration crisis, including Italy. Le Monde noted that such an operation could work only if it is done at the EU level. The French foreign ministry meanwhile ''firmly condemns the inhumane treatment and violence against migrants in Libya. These deplorable practices spark France's indignation and have shocked the world's conscience.'' France, however, continues to push back migrants at the Ventimiglia border crossing with Italy.