The Latest: UN official warns EU on 'hotspot' migrant triage

AP News
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Posted: Oct 06, 2015 1:54 PM
The Latest: UN official warns EU on 'hotspot' migrant triage

GENEVA (AP) — The latest developments as hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety make an epic trek through Europe. All times local.

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7:50 p.m.

The U.N. human rights chief is urging the European Union to make sure that registration centers designed to handle a migrant and refugee influx don't become "detention centers in disguise."

Zeid Raad al-Hussein's office said Tuesday the EU needs to move away from the "flawed view" that law enforcement is the answer to managing the crisis. The U.N. estimates more than 500,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean this year.

A day before a meeting of EU Home and Justice ministers, Zeid took aim at EU "hotspot" registration centers. They are supposed to distinguish refugees fleeing war and persecution from other migrants — like those seeking economic opportunity.

He called for more legal channels to entry and said increased border controls have only driven people toward more dangerous routes.

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5:55 p.m.

A top Hungarian official says several Eastern European countries are cooperating on controlling the flow of migrants at the external borders of the European Union — a program he says could set an example for the rest of the 28-nation bloc.

Zsolt Nemeth, head of the Hungarian parliament's foreign relations committee, said Tuesday that his country is working jointly with the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia to help protect Hungary's border with Croatia, which is also an external border for the EU's passport-free Schengen travel zone. He says the project aims to return the flow of migrants "to its normal course."

Hungary wants to spur the EU into protecting the external borders of Greece, where most of the tens of thousands of migrants reaching Hungary first enter the EU. Nemeth says "we should defend the Greek border together."

Hungary has built a razor-wire fence on its border with Serbia, which is not in the Schengen zone.

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3:55 p.m.

French rescuers have pulled seven Syrian refugees out of the cold water of the port of Calais after their failed attempt to reach a boat headed across the English Channel to Britain.

Four people were retrieved around 10 p.m. Monday and three more were found about 4 a.m. Tuesday, the Calais prefecture said. Some were treated at a hospital for hypothermia and released.

Migrants looking to find a new life in Britain flock to the northwest French city in a bid to sneak across the Channel by boat or train. They are taking increasing risks as security measures at the port and the Eurotunnel train services tighten. Thirteen migrants have died trying to cross the Channel since June 26, the prefecture said.

At least 3,500 migrants are currently living in a squalid tent city outside Calais.  

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2:50 p.m.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos with Greece's prime minister to see the impact of the refugee crisis and to examine facilities set up to handle the thousands of people who arrive daily.

Faymann and Greece's Alexis Tsipras went to the island's main port Tuesday, where a ferry was preparing to take about 2,500 people to Athens. They were later to tour a reception center set up to register and process arriving refugees and migrants.

About 400,000 people have reached Greece so far this year, most in small overcrowded boats from the nearby Turkish coast. Most arrive on Lesbos.

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1:40 p.m.

Britain's interior minister says she would not agree — "not in a thousand years" — to a common European immigration policy to deal with the flow of migrants and refugees coming to the continent.

Home Secretary Theresa May told the Conservative Party conference Tuesday that Britain should tighten control of its borders, admitting vulnerable refugees but keeping out many people who aspire to a better life.

She said other European countries should also toughen up, arguing that in the last few years more people had applied for asylum in the EU from Balkan countries — which have not seen war for years — than from Syria.

She said the migration crisis "can only be resolved by nation states taking responsibility themselves — and protecting their own national borders."

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1:20 p.m.

Germany's interior minister says he won't update his forecast that some 800,000 migrants will arrive this year in light of the continuing influx, arguing that raising it would be misinterpreted as an invitation.

Thomas de Maiziere said in mid-August that Germany could see up to 800,000 arrivals this year. The influx accelerated last month, and the vice chancellor has said 1 million newcomers are likely. The Bild daily reported Monday that unspecified authorities now expect up to 1.5 million, a report the government rejected.

De Maiziere said Tuesday it isn't clear what effect colder weather will have and pointed to efforts toward an international solution. He added: "Any new forecast would be misinterpreted by traffickers and others as an extra invitation, and I don't want to contribute to that."

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1:10 p.m.

The anti-immigration Freedom Party led by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders has opened an online register where citizens can report problems caused by asylum seekers in the Netherlands.

Wilders, known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, said in a statement Tuesday that "with its crazy open-border policy the government is importing tens of thousands of asylum-seekers" and adds that "sadly many Dutch citizens will experience problems."

While many Dutch people have actively welcomed asylum-seekers, Wilders' party has been rising in opinion polls as he has campaigned for the country to close its borders to migrants.

According to the Dutch government's statistics office, some 17,000 people applied for asylum in the Netherlands from January through August.

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11:20 a.m.

Hungary's foreign minister says the government is preparing to step up its opposition to the European Union's plan to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Tuesday that the government would seek support from all parties in parliament "to be able to take up the fight against the mandatory quota to take in migrants with the strongest authority possible."

Hungary last month was among four Eastern European countries to vote against the EU relocation plan. Though Hungary always rejected the idea, it initially said it respected the majority decision. Since then, however, opposition to the scheme has grown more vocal.

Speaking after a meeting between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and leaders of the government and opposition parties, Szijjarto said everyone was opposed to the relocation quotas but there was no consensus about how the government should contest it.

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10:00 a.m.

Turkey has warned the European Union that 3 million more refugees could flee fighting in Syria as the EU struggles to manage its biggest migration emergency in decades.

Around 2 million refugees from Syria are currently in Turkey, and tens of thousands of others have entered the EU via Greece this year, overwhelming coast guards and reception facilities.

EU Council President Donald Tusk told lawmakers Tuesday that "according to Turkish estimates, another 3 million potential refugees may come from Aleppo and its neighborhood."

Tusk said that "today millions of potential refugees and migrants are dreaming about Europe."

He warned that "the world around us does not intend to help Europe" and that some of the EU's neighbors "look with satisfaction at our troubles."