The Latest: EU seeks deals to curb migration

AP News
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Posted: Jun 07, 2016 9:43 AM
The Latest: EU seeks deals to curb migration

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to the influx of asylum seekers and migrants (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

The European Union aims to seal deals with African and Middle East countries to ensure that refugees to stay close to home and to discourage migrants seeking jobs from heading to Europe.

The EU Commission on Tuesday unveiled plans for the tailor-made agreements with countries that migrants leave, travel through or stay in.

It's part of the EU's longer-term strategy to tackle the root causes of migration as the 28-nation bloc struggles manage its biggest refugee emergency since World War II.

The deals would combine billions of euros in funds to build border, asylum and counter-smuggling capacities, as well as develop infrastructure and promote investment. Development and trade incentives will also be offered.

Those targeted include Syria's neighbors Jordan and Lebanon, plus Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ethiopia.

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3:20 p.m.

German authorities say 25 people are receiving medical attention after a large fire broke out at a refugee accommodation in the western city of Duesseldorf.

A spokesman for Duesseldorf's fire department says about 70 firefighters rushed to the grounds of the city's convention center after being alerted to the fire shortly after noon on Tuesday.

Joerg Schmitter told The Associated Press that 282 refugees were living at the site. He says 24 refugees were treated for smoke inhalation and one firefighter suffered exhaustion.

Schmitter says police are investigating the cause of the fire.

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3:05 p.m.

Police in Sicily have arrested a middle-school janitor who is accused of sexual violence against a recently arrived, 16-year-old migrant.

Police say the 53-year-old janitor was caught on hidden camera trying to induce the girl to come to the bathroom with him, promising her chewing gum if she agreed. The janitor is accused of sexual violence and induction to underage prostitution.

Police in Ragusa said in a statement they were tipped off by a worker at the shelter where the girl had been staying since arriving in Sicily. The teen, an unaccompanied minor, was refusing to go to school.

Police said Tuesday that their investigation, which included seizing the janitor's computer, showed "serious indications of guilt."

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12:35 p.m.

German authorities say a large fire has broken at a refugee accommodation on the grounds of the convention center in the western city of Duesseldorf.

A spokesman for Duesseldorf's fire department says that about 70 firefighters are at the scene.

Joerg Schmitter told The Associated Press that the fire started shortly after noon on Tuesday. He says that all people who had been in the hall appeared to have made it out

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12:50 p.m.

Turkey's top diplomat has reaffirmed that the EU-Turkey deal on migrants depends on Turkish citizens being granted visa-free travel to the bloc.

Mehmet Cavusoglu said Tuesday "this is not a threat or blackmail. If one doesn't come into effect, the other won't come into effect either."

He added: "If Europe doesn't apply the visa-free travel then we will be forced to suspend the agreement on the return of refugees."

Turkey must meet five outstanding criteria, including narrowing its definition of terrorism, for its citizens to travel without visas to the EU.

The bloc is leaning on Turkey, which hosts 3 million refugees, to curb the flow of irregular migrants from its territory to Europe.

In exchange, it has offered Turkey several political and financial incentives, including 6 billion euros ($6.8 billion) in refugee aid.

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12:45 p.m.

The International Organization for Migration says it fears that some 320 people remain missing and are presumed drowned following a shipwreck off Crete last week.

The IOM says accounts from survivors who were taken to Augusta, Italy after Friday's shipwreck indicated that about 650 people were on board. The organization said rescue crews had also recovered nearly a dozen corpses.

There have been conflicting reports about the numbers. The Greek coast guard Monday that survivor accounts indicated that about 350 people were on board.

At a U.N. briefing Tuesday in Geneva, IOM spokesman Joel Millman said: "Greek authorities apparently told our office in Athens that they had not a chance to talk to survivors," none of whom were taken to Greece.

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12:40 p.m.

Sweden has launched a commission to analyze government agencies' response to last year's record influx of 163,000 asylum-seekers.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman on Tuesday said the purpose is to "learn from what happened" and improve the ability of authorities to deal with a similar situation.

After Germany, Sweden was the top destination for asylum-seekers entering Europe last year, with almost 80,000 arriving in October and November alone.

The government took measures to stem the flow in late 2015 and early 2016, including by introducing border checks designed to stop undocumented migrants from entering Sweden from Denmark and Germany.

Since then the number of new arrivals has dropped sharply.

The commission is to present its findings no later than Feb. 28, 2017.