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German FM, African Union head say migrant camps not answer

Associated Press logo Associated Press 2/05/2017 By ELIAS MESERET, Associated Press
Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, speaks to media accompanied by African Union (AU) chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Germany's foreign minister and the African Union chief say setting up camps in North Africa will not solve Europe's migrant crisis and that stabilizing African countries is a better strategy. (AP Photo/Daniel Getachew) © The Associated Press Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, left, speaks to media accompanied by African Union (AU) chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Germany's foreign minister and the African Union chief say setting up camps in North Africa will not solve Europe's migrant crisis and that stabilizing African countries is a better strategy. (AP Photo/Daniel Getachew)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Setting up camps for migrants in Libya will not stop their flow toward Europe and stabilizing African countries is a better strategy, Germany's foreign minister and the African Union chief said Tuesday.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel spoke during a visit to Ethiopia, where the AU continental body is based. He and AU chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat addressed a plan embraced earlier this year by European Union leaders to stop the movement of smuggled migrants through the largely lawless north African country.

"A country like Libya has no security whatsoever and where we have already today, I heard a report from diplomats indicating that the camps existing on the ground are with horrible conditions, catastrophic conditions," Gabriel told reporters. "The idea to set up in a country like Libya would be in utter disregard to the living circumstances of the people on the ground."

African nations that are the source of migrants should be stabilized instead, the foreign minister said.

The plan would provide support to strengthen Libyan communities and make sure there are better reception conditions for migrants.

U.N. and refugee advocates have decried horrible camp conditions in Libya and expressed fears that people could be endangered if they are returned to their homelands.

AU chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said it is impossible that migrant camps would stop or even contain the flow of people making their way toward Europe. He said European countries instead should invest in security and job opportunities for youth across Africa.

EU leaders are determined to succeed in both stopping more migrants from crossing into Libya's southern desert and thwarting smugglers from continuing to send migrants from the poorly patrolled Mediterranean coast toward Europe.

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