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The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is warning that the world is in the midst of a forced migration crisis, and it expects the situation to get worse still. European leaders are struggling to agree on how to respond to the challenges posed by large movements of irregular migrants across their borders.

Huge numbers of people are dying trying to cross the Mediterranean to Southern Europe from Libya. Lawlessness in Libya means that there is little authority to control the flow; some of the militias controlling the country are profiting from the trade. The recipient countries in the EU are struggling to deal with the large numbers reaching their destination, and securing agreement within the EU on a coordinated response to the challenges posed by the migration flows is proving difficult.

The EU has strengthened its search and rescue operations Triton and Poseidon and is giving some practical and financial support to the most affected Member States, particularly Italy and Greece. It has proposed an emergency scheme to relocate 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other Member States over the next two years.

The UK Government is not participating in the relocation scheme. It has offered some practical assistance to its EU partners, including some support for the search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

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