Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has called on EU member states to resettle more vulnerable refugees from camps in third countries.

Speaking to German newspaper Die Welt, Avramopoulos urged EU countries to take in refugees evacuated from war-ravaged Libya to Niger in particular, given Niger’s limited capacity to host them.

“I call on all member states to step up their resettlement efforts and implement their commitments to take in refugees as soon as possible,” he said, adding: “It’s necessary to conduct more emergency evacuations from Libya.”

Following an EU-African Union summit in 2017, Niger began to accept evacuated refugees from Libya. Rwanda has also offered to take in evacuees, which Avramopoulos welcomed.

According to the United Nations refugee agency, 14 countries — including 10 EU member states — have pledged some 6,600 resettlement places for those evacuated from Libya to Niger as of August. But resettlement has progressed slowly, NGOs reported earlier this year.

“We must make resettlement a priority if we want to support partner countries that have taken in refugees,”Avramopoulos said. “That’s also important to provide refugees who want to go to Europe with safe routes, so that they no longer have to fall back on dangerous and illegal sea and land routes.”

He added that overall, some 35,000 refugees had been resettled to the EU from third countries over the past two years.

“This is more than ever before,” Avramopoulos said. “But we must not become complacent. Resettlement should become the most important route to entering the European Union for those in need of protection.”

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