As Refugee Crisis Expands, Europe Plans National Quotas
Some 1.8K migrants have died this year in journey across Mediterranean
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 11, 2015 12:18 PM CDT
Migrants wait after arriving at the Catania harbor, Sicily, southern Italy, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.   (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

(Newser) – The Mediterranean region has been grappling with a huge influx of migrants traveling from the Libyan coast to Europe, and the effects have been devastating: So far, some 60,000 people have attempted the crossing this year, per the UN, and more than 1,800 have died, the BBC reports. That's 20 times the number who died during the same period last year, and the crisis has prompted the EU to propose a distribution system involving refugee quotas for its 28 member countries. Those quotas would be based on factors like the country's existing population and unemployment levels, the New York Times reports. Countries like Germany, Italy, and Malta that have seen large numbers of migrants arrive or apply for asylum favor balancing the numbers, the BBC notes.

It's "a question of fairness," says Austria's chancellor, noting that asylum is "not an act of mercy but a human right." But the UK, Hungary, Slovakia, and Estonia are poised to fight the idea. "The idea that somebody allows some refugees in their own country and then distributes them to other member states is mad and unfair," Hungary's prime minister said on state radio, per the Times. The news comes as Amnesty International highlights the dangers of life in Libya for migrants, saying they're abused by those who smuggle them and face "abduction, torture, and rape," the BBC notes. One Syrian family describes the decision to cross the sea: "We were facing death in Libya, so we thought we might as well face death in trying to get to Italy."