U.K. aid package would redirect refugees to Asia, Latin America

Migrants are seen during rescue operation in the Mediterranea Sea Oct. 20, 2016. (Credit: Yara Nardi/Italian Red Cross press office)

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Refugees trying to reach Europe will be encouraged to move to Asia and Latin America as part of a British aid package intended to bolster a U.N. scheme, Prime Minister Theresa May announced at an EU summit.

A 30 million pound ($37 million) aid package, providing life-saving supplies across Eastern Europe and Greece and support for vulnerable women refugees traveling alone, will also support a scheme helping refugees start new lives in Asia and Latin America.

European Union leaders were meeting on Malta on Friday to endorse plans they hope can prevent a new wave of migrants sailing for Italy from Africa.

Some 370,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Europe last year, many fleeing war, poverty and persecution in the Middle East and Africa.

Britain’s International Development Secretary Priti Patel said in a statement the “government is stepping up its support for the most vulnerable refugees.”

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The voluntary resettlement program, jointly run by the U.N. refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration, also aims to help countries build infrastructure for new refugee arrivals.

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