France reveals reform plan on migrants, refugees


French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe unveiled on Wednesday draft legislation to cut asylum-application times from over a year to six months.

Since last year, France has seen a 40 percent increase in the number of asylum applications, according to government figures.

The Action Plan on Immigration and Asylum also aims to improve conditions of the growing flow of migrants and refugees living rough in France.

It will be presented to lawmakers for approval in September.

Talking to reporters, the French premier said the country had failed to "live up to what it should be," on its humanitarian obligations towards migrants and refugees.

He said the migrant crisis was "high, visible and, everything indicates, will be durable".

Philippe said France would create up to 7,500 shelters for asylum seekers and 5,000 for refugees by 2019 but added: "It's not possible ... to welcome all migrants."

Philippe said it was also necessary to distinguish between economic migrants and those who sought refuge from conflict.

He said asylum seekers who had been rejected would be dealt with firmly. Those whose requests were turned down would "systematically be the subject of an expulsion measure".

"In 2016, out of 91,000 foreign nationals arrested in an irregular situation on the territory, only 31,000 have been issued an obligation to leave French territory and less than 25,000 have actually left the territory. These figures are not satisfactory," he added.

Speaking at the same event, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters France wants to discuss renegotiating the 2003 Le Touquet treaty with London, which allows British immigration checks to be established on French soil.

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