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Libya rejects European suggestions of 'refugee cities' on coast

Tens thousands of refugees have attempted to reach Europe from Libya [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 October, 2016

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Suggestions by some European countries that Libya should build 'refugee cities' on its shores have been firmly rejected by the country's leadership.

Libya - a key springboard for Europe-bound migrants from Africa - has rejected calls from some EU countries to build refugee camps on its shores

Tripoli said that the European bloc could not "shirk its responsibility" towards refugees.

"The EU would shirk its responsibility and instead place it on our shoulders," Foreign Minister Mohamad Taher Siala said at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna.

"[It is] very far removed from the reality on the ground," he said.

Several European Union countries - including Austria and Hungary - have been pushing for EU deals with North African countries to send back rejected asylum-seekers as a way of dealing with the worst migration crisis since 1945.

Hungary's populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently said the EU should build "a large refugee city" on the Libyan coast to process asylum claims of migrants outside the EU.

A growing number of people are attempting the treacherous sea journey from Libya or Egypt, after the closure of the Balkan migrant trail route leading from Greece to western Europe.

More than 140,000 have made the journey to Italy on overcrowded boats since the start of this year, latest figures show.

Over 3,500 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016 so far.

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