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EU Proposes A Plan To Address The Mediterranean Migrant Crisis

The European Union has presented a proposal to the United Nations aiming to stem the flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. The plan includes seizing and destroying the boats that smugglers are using to transport the migrants across the Mediterranean Sea. The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, briefed the U.N. Security Council on the proposal Monday morning. "We need to count on your support to save lives," Mogherini told council members.

She outlined proposals agreed to by EU governments last month, including reinforcement of search and rescue efforts, tripling financial resources for this purpose over the next two years, disrupting smuggling networks and bringing the perpetrators to justice, and efforts to identify, capture and destroy the smugglers' vessels.

The EU has also proposed intervening on the ground in Libya, the departure country of many of the migrants. But Russia, which can veto any Security Council resolution, opposes the idea of destroying the smugglers' ships before they can be used.

An estimated 1,800 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year, according to the U.N.

The EU is also pushing a plan to accommodate those migrants who do make it to Europe, but it will not meet with universal approval on the continent. CNN reports the plan would call for quotas on the number of migrants each EU country would be required to take in.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said repeatedly Monday that the document was still being redrafted, and she would not comment on whether any EU countries would be able to opt out of the quotas.

Under the plan, European nations could see as many as 20,000 refugees a year, reports The Wall Street Journal. Under the proposal crafted in Brussels, the distribution of migrants among EU states would use a formula that takes into account the size of the population, the strength of the economy and unemployment rates in each country, as well as the number of refugees they have taken in so far, according to a draft text seen by The Wall Street Journal.

The paper says the European Commission will take up the refugee plan during its meeting Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.