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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Countries agree migration plans
Illegal migrants are intercepted in Spain's Canary Islands
Thousands survive the perilous journey, but many perish
European and African countries have agreed a plan to tackle illegal immigration, at a specially-convened meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

The proposals include joint monitoring of sea and border routes, and tackling poverty through aid.

But human rights groups say they fear the focus will be on cracking down on illegal immigration rather than alleviating poverty.

Some 10,000 migrants have arrived in Spain's Canary Islands this year alone.

Officials from 57 countries attended the conference, which was triggered by the growing number of African migrants attempting to reach Europe.

Co-ordinated approach

"We have agreed to create and develop a close partnership between our respective countries to work together... with respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of migrants and refugees," the delegates said in a final declaration.

Other plans include

  • a migration observatory to track people's movements
  • measures to increase awareness of the dangers of illegal migration
  • financial, aid and employment incentives

Countries will also attempt to jointly target human trafficking networks through co-ordinated police and judicial efforts.

The conference said the repatriation of illegal migrants would also be made easier, with clearer rules on how they should be treated to preserve their dignity.

'Hundreds' killed

The number of illegal migrants reaching Spain's Canary Islands this year is already double the total for 2005.

Hundreds have also landed on Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Most of the migrants are from West and Central Africa - Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast and DR Congo.

While thousands manage to reach European territory, many are killed after trying to make the journey in overcrowded and unsafe boats.

The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Rabat says it is impossible to know how many have died in the attempt, but they are likely to number in the hundreds.

Is migration a problem?
05 Jul 06 |  Africa


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