European leaders have warned that unprecedented levels of economic migrants will attempt to cross the Mediterranean once temperatures rise during the Spring.
More than 180,000 attempted to reach Italy by sea in 2016. More than 5,000 died during the journey, but authorities expect the trend to continue.
A majority are considered economic migrants with slim chances of getting asylum. Malta, a tiny nation in the Mediterranean, holds the European Union’s presidency this spring and it wants the union to act sooner rather than later.
“Come next spring, the number of people crossing over the Mediterranean will reach record levels,” Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told The Associated Press Sunday. “The choice is trying to do something now, or meeting urgently in April, May … and try to do a deal then.”
The migrant crisis that broke out in 2015 primarily stemmed from Syria and Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of people in North Africa are also pursuing a better life as economies have crippled in recent years.
“Egypt is the country with which one could come to some sort of agreement,” Maltese Foreign Minister George Vella told AP. “There is stability to a certain extent, and they are interested because even they themselves have got their own problem with migration.”
Countries such as Niger, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Mali and Chad are also being monitored as possible nations with high volumes of migrants.
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