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Sunday, August 01, 2004

EU Business - German ministers feud over plans for immigrant camps in Africa

EU Business - German ministers feud over plans for immigrant camps in Africa
01 August 2004

German Interior Minister Otto Schily hit back Sunday at his colleague at the foreign ministry over proposals to set up camps for asylum-seekers in north Africa.

"We should ask ourselves if it isn't better to receive refugees close to their countries of origin. To my mind that's the best solution," he told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

The idea had been robustly criticised by Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher who said recently that the idea "had not been thought through."

"I have nothing good to say of it," he said.

Schily hit back by saying that "some people had got indignant without having studied the details.

"I would have expected my colleague Fischer to get in touch with me before speaking out in public," Schily told the newspaper.

"I have to send that (remark) back to...Fischer," Schily said. "It seems to me he hasn't thought things through.

"It is wrong to believe that we can solve the problems in African crisis regions by bringing people to Europe."

Schily said the impression should not be given to people who put their fates in the hands of traffickers or set out to sea in "nutshells" that they would automatically get the right to arrive in Europe.

He pointed out that Italy had set up a refugee camp on the island of Lampedusa near Sicily.

"Why should a camp like that be criticised if it was in Tunisia, for example?" he said.

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