“The idea is to create hot spots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum. We’ll go to them,” Macron said during a visit to a refugee shelter in central France, adding the plan would be put in place “this summer”, with or without other EU countries.
But officials in the French presidency cast doubt on whether the centres could be established that quickly, saying the security conditions were “not yet in place”.
According to the UN’s International Organisation for Migration, 85,000 of the 100,000 people who have arrived in Europe since January set off from Libya, which has descended into chaos since the fall of president Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Over 2,300 have drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Sleeping on the streets
Speaking during a French citizenship ceremony in Orleans, Macron said he wanted no more people sleeping in the streets by the end of the year.
More than 800 people were living in the streets around Paris’s migrants centre this week, just three weeks after an operation that moved some 3,000 to other towns and cities in France, according to the France terre d’asile organisation.
NGOs have accused the government of sending mixed messages with Macron promising to speed up the asylum process while Interior Minister Gérard Collomb talked tough on a recent visit to Calais, where migrants gather to try to cross the Channel to Britain.
Cédric Herrou, a farmer who has been convicted for helping migrants coming to France from Italy, was charged and released on parole on Wednesday.
He was arrested in the Côte d’Azur city of Cannes on Monday while accompanying 153 migrants who wanted to place asylum requests.
The authorities said they should have done so in Nice.
Herrou could face up to five years in jail and/or a 30,000-euro fine.