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EU Ministers Again Fail to Meet Migrant Relocation Targets

FILE - Migrants rest after disembarking from the British assault ship HMS Bulwark at the Sicilian port of Catania after being rescued at sea, Italy, June 8, 2015.

European Union interior ministers failed on Monday to find temporary homes on the continent for some 40,000 African, Asian and Middle Eastern asylum-seekers encamped in Greece and Italy after perilous journeys across the Mediterranean.

Meeting Monday in Brussels, the ministers were seeking to complete a relocation plan by an August 1 target date for a larger influx of refugees expected in the next two years. A date for agreement on a new plan has now been pushed back to the end of the year.

Germany has so far committed to taking 10,000 migrants. But other EU nations facing stiff domestic opposition to new refugees, including Britain and Denmark, have voiced reluctance to take more asylum seekers.

Austria and Hungary have also refused to take more migrants, with Hungary attempting to build a fence along its border with Serbia to keep them out.

The migrant crisis and Europe's failure to address it continues to cause havoc, particularly in Greece and Italy, where most of the 137,000 migrants came ashore between January and June of this year.

United Nations data published early this month said a full third of those refugees came from war-torn Syria, with Eritreans and Afghans each accounting for about 12 percent of arrivals.

That report also said the number of migrant deaths at sea rose to record levels in the first four months of 2015, spurred by the sinking in April of a single refugee boat carrying more than 800 passengers from Libya to Italy. Fewer than 50 asylum seekers survived the disaster.

In April, Italy said about 150,000 migrants reached its shores in 2014. Italian authorities also predicted that 5,000 refugees would reach Italy each week for the rest of this year — pushing migrant arrivals in the country as high as 200,000 in 2015.

Some information is from Reuters and AP.