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The Latest: French leader wants to screen migrants in Africa

The Latest: French leader wants to screen migrants in Africa

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ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to the large numbers of migrants and refugees trying to reach the continent (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says he would like to create "hotspots" this summer where migrants in Libya would be pre-screened for asylum claims.

French press reports quoted Macron making the remark on the sidelines of a visit Wednesday with refugees in Orleans before he presided over a citizenship ceremony.

An official in the presidential entourage said later that Macron was referring to "advance points" in southern Libya, as well as in neighboring Niger and Chad. The official could not be named in keeping with presidential policy.

In a speech, Macron said France wants to create ways for Africans to seek asylum "on African soil" to avoid perilous sea journeys to Europe. — By Elaine Ganley


6:25 p.m.

A Cyprus aid group says the captain and crew of a ship chartered by an anti-immigrant group has been ordered to leave the island after being detained on suspicion of forging the documents of 20 Sri Lankans on board.

Refugee Rights Association advocate Faika Deniz Pasha said the captain of the Defend Europe-chartered ship and his eight-person crew were detained after some Sri Lankans on the boat said they paid a trafficker to take them to Italy.

A Defend Europe spokeswoman denied the claim, saying the 20 were apprentice sailors who were bribed by non-governmental organizations to claim they were asylum-seekers.

Pasha says the captain and crew would depart later Thursday from the northern port of Famagusta after authorities ordered their deportation.


5:25 p.m.

Human rights activists have criticized the European Union for looking to Libya for help in curbing migration from Africa, but Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says he thinks those worries can be addressed.

Libya's prime minister has asked Italy to send some naval ships to assist Libya's coast guard in combatting migrant trafficking. Gentiloni said Thursday his center-left government would brief parliamentary commissions on the request next week.

The premier acknowledged the problem of what happens to migrants if they are returned to Libya. Rescued migrants have told Italian authorities and humanitarian organizations about torture, rape, beatings and other atrocities they have suffered in Libyan camps..

Gentiloni said international organizations on the ground in Libya could help guarantee the proper treatment of those forced to return to Libya and their eventual repatriation to their homelands.


2:55 p.m.

Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni says sending Italian naval units to help Libya's coast guard could be a "turning point" in combating migrant trafficking.

Gentiloni told reporters Thursday that next week his center-left government will brief parliamentary commissions about Libya's request.

Libya's prime minister met in Rome with Gentiloni on Wednesday and asked Italy to send some naval ships. Gentiloni noted that Italy already has helped Libya's coast guard with motorboats and training aimed at improving Libyan patrols along its Mediterranean shores. Traffickers, exploiting widespread lawlessness in Libya, have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants in unseaworthy smuggling boats toward Italy.

Gentiloni said his government was working out the details of a possible naval mission, saying he's "certain" Parliament would approve Libya's request for "collaboration and assistance" in combating traffickers.

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