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Oct 9, 11:47 AM EDT

The Latest: France to grant asylum to Niger, Chad migrants


MILAN (AP) -- The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron says that the first operations to allow migrants to come legally to France from Niger and Chad will start in the coming weeks.

Macron said upcoming missions will be led by France's refugee protection office, following a meeting Monday with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Elysee Palace.

In a Paris summit in August, leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Spain agreed to carry out "protection missions" in the African nations in cooperation with the United Nations' refugee and migration agencies.

The process would allow vulnerable migrants to be granted asylum and come legally to Europe if they are on an eligibility list provided by the U.N. refugee agency and registered with authorities in Niger and Chad.

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3:15 p.m.

The U.N. migration agency says eight Tunisian migrants have died and a further 20 are missing after a Tunisian naval ship collided with a migrant boat.

Flavio Di Giacomo of the International Organization for Migration said Monday that about 45 others were saved in a joint Maltese-Italian operation.

The Tunisian defense department said in a statement that the collision happened Sunday about 54 kilometers (30 miles) off the coast of El Ataya, on the island of Kerkennah. The circumstances remain unclear.

Di Giacomo said the number of Tunisians making their way from Tunisia to Italy is on the rise, although the reasons are not clear. IOM estimates that 1,400 Tunisians arrived in Italy last month, compared with 1,357 in the first eight months of the year.

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