Interior ministers from the European Union are moving forward with a plan to finance refugee camps in Africa in a bid to help the United Nations and aid groups process migrants before they attempt to reach Europe by sea.
"Europe must ensure that refugees are not brought to Europe at all, but brought back to safe places," German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on January 26 in Malta on the sidelines of the EU ministerial meeting.
"The people taken up by the smugglers need to be saved and brought to a safe place," he said. "But then from this safe place outside Europe, we would bring into Europe only those who require protection."
The EU wants to shut down the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing from Libya to Italy as a route for illegal migrants.
Under the EU ministers' plan, camps in Libya or nearby would be run by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, or the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Those international organizations would be tasked with screening migrants and helping to repatriate those not eligible for asylum.