The Latest: Czechs send more police to Austria border

AP News
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Posted: Sep 13, 2015 2:40 PM
The Latest: Czechs send more police to Austria border

MUNICH (AP) — The latest developments as European governments rush to cope with the huge number of people moving across Europe. All times local (CET):

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8:35 p.m.

The Czech prime minister says that his country has deployed more police to the Austrian-Czech border in response to Germany's decision to renew border controls along its border with Austria in a bid to limit an influx of refugees.

Bohuslav Sobotka says the measure was taken "to ensure that laws and rules inside the Schengen zone are not violated."

Sobotka said Sunday that the government will assess the situation on a regular basis and will take further security measures if needed.

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7:40 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says border control measures announced by European countries underline the urgency of "a comprehensive European response" to the migrant crisis.

European Union interior ministers will meet on Monday amid deep divisions in the 28-nation bloc over how to handle the influx of refugees and others seeking a better life. Germany, which is a preferred destination and says it capacity to deal with newcomers is being stretched to the limit, on Sunday introduced border checks on the Austrian frontier.

Hungary is fortifying its border with Serbia in an effort to halt the influx.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said an EU response should include "the rapid implementation of a relocation program" to spread refugees among all EU countries. Many nations are resisting that.

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7 p.m.

A day before a meeting of interior ministers in Brussels about the migrants' crisis, Romania's president will speak to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

President Klaus Iohannis will discuss the "migration package" later Sunday with Juncker, according to presidential adviser Leonard Orban.

Romania says it can receive 1,785 migrants. The European Union has asked Romania to take an extra 4,650 people.

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5:45 p.m.

Germany's interior minister says his country is introducing temporary border checks on the Austrian frontier in a bid to limit the influx of refugees.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Sunday that the measure might lead to disruption of railway services, but didn't give further details.

Germany and Austria agreed over a week ago to let in migrants who had gathered in Hungary, saying it was a one-time measure to ease an emergency. Still, the influx has continued and German officials have said over the weekend that the speed of the arrivals was straining the country's ability to provide accommodation.

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5:15 p.m.

A small Hungarian party says that in special circumstances tracking devices should be placed on asylum seekers to monitor their whereabouts.

Politics Can Be Different, an opposition party known mainly for embracing environmental and anti-corruption themes, said Sunday the tracking devices would be used in emergency situations to keep tabs on asylum seekers whose claims haven't been decided within 30 days.

While police said more than 186,000 migrants have entered Hungary this year, nearly all have moved on to EU destinations further west like Germany.

Other measures meant to handle the migrant crisis proposed by Politics Can Be Different include extra funding to hire 3,000 police officers, building more refugee camps and well as providing information to migrants in their native language.

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3:05 p.m.

Greek authorities say 28 people have drowned, half of them children, after a wooden smuggling boat capsized in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

The tragedy took place before dawn Sunday off the Greek island of Farmakonissi. Greek coast guard boats rescued 68 other migrants from the sea and 30 more from the boat made it on their own to the island.

A Greek coast guard spokesman said four of the drowned children were infants and, among the others, there were 5 girls and 5 boys. He did not know the victims' ages or nationalities.

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2:50 p.m.

Thousands of migrants and refugees, mostly Syrians, are still marching into Hungary from Serbia.

They are often helped by smugglers, who collect thousands of euros (dollars) in exchange for guidance or transportation along the way.

One Syrian refugee, Abdul Moneim Abdul Aziz, fled the city of Hama 17 days ago and has travelled across Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. On Sunday he was looking at Google maps on his cellphone.

He said smugglers had told him not to travel through Hungary "because they will fingerprint us and when we try to go to Sweden or Norway or Holland, (they say) we will be rejected."

Aziz was torn, wanting to take the risk and cross the Hungarian border near Roszke, but a relative persuaded him to return to Serbia with his family. Aziz said he would look for another way to get to Sweden, where he hopes to join relatives already there.

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2:05 p.m.

Romania's interior minister says his country will politely refuse to take in more than the 1,785 asylum seekers it initially agreed to.

The European Union had asked Romania to take an extra 4,650 people.

Interior Minister Gabriel Oprea says he has a "very clear mandate" from the president and prime minister to refuse the request. He spoke Sunday ahead of an interior ministers' meeting Monday in Brussels on Europe's migration crisis.

Oprea says "we will respect our initial agreement ... that is the current capacity of the Romanian state."

He also said Romania will vote against having obligatory migrant quotas for EU nations.

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1:45 p.m.

Austrian police say they have rescued 42 people, including five women and eight children, from a refrigerated truck on a highway near the border with Germany.

Police in Upper Austria province say the migrants were found Sunday morning at a rest stop on the A8 highway at Aistersheim by officers looking for traffickers' vehicles. They were inside a Finnish-registered truck used to transport flowers.

Police said in a statement that all were in good health and the suspected smugglers, two Iraqis, were arrested.

Last month, 71 people were found dead inside a truck on a highway in eastern Austria. Police say the victims probably suffocated.

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1:20 p.m.

Greek authorities say 10 migrants have drowned at sea off a Greek island when their boat capsized — and there are fears the toll may rise as coast guard officers search the ship.

Another 68 passengers on the boat were rescued at sea early Sunday and 30 more were able to swim to the Greek island of Farmakonissi in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

The victims' nationalities have not been undetermined. A coast guard spokeswoman told The Associated Press that one child was among them.

The area has been hit by strong winds of more than 50 kph (31 mph).

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1 p.m.

Germany's vice chancellor is calling for an aid package to help feed, house and educate refugees in camps in countries neighboring Syria — an effort to combat the problems that are causing them to flee to Europe.

The U.N.'s World Food Program has had to cut food distributions at the camps because of funding shortages.

Sigmar Gabriel told German daily Tagesspiegel that Germany and Europe should put up 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in immediate aid for food, accommodation "and above all schools" in the biggest refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan. He says the Gulf Arab countries and the United States should each contribute the same amount.

Gabriel said "as long as hardships grow in the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, people will set off for Europe. We must address this, and quickly."

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10:45 p.m.

Germany's interior minister is making it clear that migrants wouldn't get to choose what country they go to under a proposed European Union quota system to share the burden of new arrivals.

Germany, which is a favored destination and has taken the most asylum seekers in the 28-nation EU, wants an agreement on quotas but faces resistance from several other countries.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere was quoted Sunday as telling the Tagesspiegel daily that if refugees get protection in Europe they must accept being distributed around the EU.

He said "there can be no free choice of residence for refugees. That doesn't exist anywhere in the world."

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9:25 p.m.

German police say a total of 12,200 migrants came to Munich on Saturday and the flow is continuing into the city, the main point of entry to Germany.

Federal police spokesman Simon Hegewald said more than 700 people fleeing their homelands have arrived at the city's main station on Sunday morning. Police didn't immediately have an estimate of how many more might land during the day.

Officials in Munich were putting up tents but say their capacity to house the newcomers arriving from Hungary via Austria is being stretched to the limit. They are calling for more help from other places in Germany.

Hegewald said three special trains from Munich were planned Sunday to move migrants onto other destinations in the country.

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9 a.m.

The flow of migrants into Hungary has hit another record as Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government prepares an unprecedented border clampdown.

Police said 4,330 migrants were detained Saturday, over 700 more than the previous one-day mark. Hungary is rushing to complete a fence on its border with Serbia and starting Tuesday, new rules criminalizing illegal border crossings and speeding up decisions about asylum requests take effect.

Hungarian authorities hope the 4-meter (13-feet) high fence, more police at the border and tighter migration rules should deter migrants from trying to enter the country as they strive to reach Germany or other destinations in Western Europe.

At the least, authorities hope it will bring order to their mandatory registration system — which has crumbled as the number of migrants has grown.