The Latest: Merkel, Hungary's Orban speak on crisis

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2015 4:20 PM
The Latest: Merkel, Hungary's Orban speak on crisis

The latest news as tens of thousands of migrants pour into countries across Europe. All times local (CET):

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10:15 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken about the migrant crisis by phone with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"Both sides agreed that Hungary and Germany are meeting their European obligations," her office said in a brief statement late Saturday.

"Merkel and Orban further agreed that today's onward travel of refugees due to the emergency situation at the Hungarian border was — as already noted yesterday — an exception."

Thousands of asylum seekers reached Germany and Austria Saturday after a surprise overnight effort by authorities to transport them out of Hungary, where they had been stuck for days.

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10:00 p.m.

Simone Hilgers, a spokeswoman for the authorities in Upper Bavaria who are coordinating the response to the refugee influx, says a total of about 6,000 people had come through Munich by 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Hilgers told The Associated Press that of the 6,000, about 1,700 had been sent onward to places outside Bavaria.

The remaining 4,300 were either given temporary accommodation in Munich, or taken with 27 buses to other locations in Bavaria, Germany's biggest state. All were given medical care, food, drink and clothes, she said.

Apart from the train to Saalfeld in Thuringia, a train carrying 460 people went from Munich to Frankfurt. Another carrying 800 people is on its way to Dortmund.

A train with 800 people is expected shortly after midnight, then a last train at 1 a.m. with 1,000 people on board.

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9:50 p.m.

Hundreds of migrants trying to leave the Greek island of Lesbos so they can make their way to western Europe have clashed with police.

The people, mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are frustrated that authorities on the scenic Aegean Sea island are not processing them quickly enough so they can travel to the mainland, and from there across the Balkans to western Europe.

Several minor clashes broke out between the two sides throughout Saturday. The latest violence took place after nightfall, when several hundred appeared intent on running to a ferry. At least one person was injured and taken away by an ambulance. Police cleared the port area of the migrants, except the estimated 2,000 due to leave for Athens at midnight (2100 GMT).

Saturday's clashes were the second between the two sides in Lesbos in as many days.

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7:20 p.m.

Israel's opposition leader says the country should take in Syrian asylum seekers amid the current refugee crisis in Europe.

Isaac Herzog said Saturday that "Jews cannot be apathetic" when hundreds of thousands of refugees are seeking safety. He said the Jewish people have suffered the world's silence before and cannot ignore the "murder and massacre" taking place in Syria.

Herzog says Israel needs to be part of a global movement to ease the suffering of those in Syria and elsewhere.

Israel has aided many of the wounded in the bloody Syrian civil war waging next door but has stopped short of opening the borders to its longtime enemy.

After a tense standoff in Hungary, scores of asylum seekers began making their way into Germany and Austria Saturday.

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7:00 p.m.

Germany's Defense Ministry says it is setting up emergency accommodation for refugees in a school for army officers in the eastern city of Dresden.

The ministry said in a statement Saturday that the school will provide temporary accommodation for 350 migrants arriving from Hungary, starting immediately.

The German army has already provided space for about 11,800 people in 24 barracks around the country, as well as several hundred more in over 140 tents.

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5:35 p.m.

Thousands filled the Republique plaza in central Paris in support of the migrants, waving flags in solidarity. French public opinion has been divided over how to handle the growing demands for asylum, with unemployment far higher than in Germany and a rise in support for the anti-immigration National Front party. But the subdued crowd in Republique — the same plaza where tens of thousands gathered in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in January — was a demonstration of the shock many French felt after seeing the photo of the dead Syrian boy on a Turkish beach.

One man held up a sign saying: "We are all descendants of immigrants."

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3:10 p.m.

Hungary's anti-immigrant prime minister says the emergency shipment of thousands of migrants to Austria doesn't solve his country's growing challenge of managing foreigners trying to travel through its territory.

Viktor Orban, whose nationalist government is seeking to seal its southern border with Serbia to block the path of asylum-seekers, told journalists that Saturday's mass mobilization of buses to transport Arab and Asian migrants west to Austria was an exceptional measure that would not be repeated. He says the migrants' snarling of traffic on the country's major motorway and decision to camp beside it Friday night posed too grave of a safety risk for migrants and Hungarian motorists.

"It is unacceptable for them to paralyze traffic on the highway and they are putting their own lives at risk," Orban said of Friday's thousands of marchers from Budapest. Buses collected them from the roadside overnight and delivered them more than 150 kilometers (90 miles) west to the Austrian border by dawn.

Orban was speaking at his ruling party's annual picnic near Lake Balaton southwest of Budapest.

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3:00 p.m.

A chartered train with some 250 migrants on board has arrived in Munich after traveling non-stop from Vienna.

Federal police spokesman Simon Hegewald told The Associated Press that a total of about 600 people who were trying to reach western Europe from Hungary have arrived in Munich since midnight.

The migrants are being taken to a reception center for immigration and asylum registration and may be distributed to shelters elsewhere in the country over the coming days.

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2:00 p.m.

Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a renowned Euro-skeptic, has launched an "Against Immigration" petition which calls "mass immigration a fundamental threat for the stability of Europe and individual EU member states."

In the text, Klaus called on the Czech government to use all possible means, including police and armed forces, to protect the country's border and to reject any plans by the European Union to establish a quota system for accepting migrants in the 28-member bloc.

He said it was "unacceptable" for Germany and France to put pressure on other EU member states on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic's most famous female athlete, seven-time Olympic gymnastics champion Vera Caslavska, published an appeal to the public asking the Czechs to help migrants and refugees. Caslavska said it would be Europeans, not the migrants, who lose human dignity if they refuse to help.

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1:00 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency has praised Austria and Germany for deciding to take in thousands of migrants who crossed the border from Hungary.

The agency said in a statement Saturday that "this is political leadership based on humanitarian values."

The Geneva-based body also lauded civil society groups and ordinary citizens in Austria and Germany for helping provide a welcome to people in need.

The agency said that "a remarkable outpouring of public response" is driving some governments to change their stance on accepting migrants.

But it said "the concentration of refugees and migrants in a small number of countries willing to receive them is not a sustainable solution."

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12:30 p.m.

German police have searched the home of a 26-year-old Berlin man alleged to have celebrated the drowning of a Syrian boy in a Facebook posting.

A spokeswoman for Berlin police says officers seized a computer and two cellphones during the raid early Saturday.

Valeska Jakubowski told The Associated Press that the man, whose name was not disclosed, was being investigated for "defaming the memory of the deceased and incitement to hatred." If convicted he could face up to three years in prison.

Police say the man wrote "we are not mourning but celebrating it" above a picture of the body of Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned earlier this week off the coast of Turkey.

German authorities are cracking down on far-right extremists using social media to stir up hatred of migrants

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11:20 a.m.

The first train carrying 167 migrants from Austria to Germany has arrived in Munich.

Police say the train arrived in the Bavarian capital at 10:25 a.m. (0825 GMT). The migrants were among a larger group who had traveled by bus from Hungary to Austria.

Federal police spokesman Simon Hegewald told The Associated Press that a specially chartered train from Salzburg, Austria, with several hundred migrants on board was expected in Munich around noon.

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11:15 a.m.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila says he is ready to open his house for refugees, and they can move in on Jan. 1, 2016.

Sipila told Finnish broadcaster YLE Saturday morning that his family has a house in central Finland that they no longer use since moving to Helsinki.

Details of how to apply and how many people the house could accommodate weren't immediately available.

Last month, Finland's interior ministry said it expects that up to 15,000 people would apply for asylum in the country — 10,000 higher than previous estimates.

The leader of the Center Party, Sipila has been heading a center-right government since May.

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9:00 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says there is no legal limit to the number of asylum seekers her country can receive.

Merkel told the Funke consortium of newspapers in an interview published Saturday that "the right to political asylum has no limits on the number of asylum seekers."

She says that "as a strong, economically healthy country we have the strength to do what is necessary" and ensure every asylum seeker gets a fair hearing.

But Merkel repeated her government's position that those migrants who stand no realistic chance of getting permission to stay need to be returned to their home country.

Germany has seen tens of thousands of migrants arriving each month, many of them refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Eritrea and elsewhere.

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7 a.m.

More than 1,000 people from the Middle East and Asia, exhausted after breaking away from police and marching for hours toward Western Europe, have arrived before dawn Saturday on the border with Austria.

The breakthrough became possible when Austria announced that it and Germany would take the migrants on humanitarian grounds and to aid their EU neighbor.

In jubilant scenes on the border, hundreds of migrants bearing blankets over their shoulders to provide cover from heavy rains walked off from buses and into Austria, where volunteers at a roadside Red Cross shelter offered them hot tea and handshakes of welcome.

Many collapsed in exhaustion on the floor, smiles on their faces.