EU politicians held a presser on the union’s new asylum seeker relocation policy in Rome, Friday, after the first group of refugees were flown from Ciampino airport to Sweden as part of the scheme to ease the pressure of the refugee crisis on Europe’s border-states. While Italian Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano touted the project as a symbol of Europe’s dedication to "saving" human lives, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos called for "rules" in the handling of the refugee crisis. Avramopoulos called for Europe to fight migrant “smuggling” and increase refugee deportation. He added that if refugees did not like the EU country they were relocated to under the new programme, they could go “back home.” The 19 Eritrean refugees are set to travel to Sweden’s Lulea and from there will be resettled in the central Swedish city of Ostersund. This is the first group out of around 40,000 asylum seekers that are expected to leave Italy for other non-frontline EU states that currently host lower numbers of refugees. At the end of September, EU officials reached an agreement to move an estimated 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy to other member states over a period of two years. Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean and landed on European shores in 2015 alone, with southern Europe seeing the majority of arrivals. According to UNHCR figures, Italy is currently host to an estimated 129,000 new arrivals; while the United Nations (UN) estimate that around 2,400 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean this year.
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