The Latest: Dutch town postpones migrant housing meeting

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 1:39 PM
The Latest: Dutch town postpones migrant housing meeting

BERLIN (AP) — The latest in the odyssey of hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing Europe in search of a new life. All times local.

6:35 p.m.

A Dutch town has postponed a meeting to discuss crisis accommodation for asylum seekers amid reports that far-right protesters planned to attend.

In a statement, Harlingen municipality says the information evening scheduled for Tuesday has been pushed back to next month "after it became clear that members of the Netherlands People's Union wanted to attend."

The group, known by its Dutch acronym NVU, is a minority far right group that is demanding the Netherlands close its borders to all migrants. The group reportedly has been sending members to other towns to protest against the possible arrival of migrants.

Mayor Roel Sluiter says that "an evening without intimidation, screaming or insults appears, based on experiences elsewhere, to be impossible in the presence of the NVU."

While many Dutch people are welcoming migrants arriving in the country, anti-immigrant political parties are gaining in popularity.

Harlingen is a picturesque port town 115 kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Amsterdam.

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6:30 p.m.

Austrian firefighters have rescued two migrants from a river after they apparently tried to swim to neighboring Germany.

Firefighter Klaus Litzlbauer says the two were fished out of the Braunau river Tuesday as they held on to bridge supports to avoid being swept downstream. He said the men were unharmed but were suffering from hypothermia.

Officials say they apparently jumped into the river from a bridge in the Upper Austrian town of Braunau where other migrants were waiting to enter Germany. They say the two were shouting "more freedom" and were being cheered on by the crowd on the span.

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5:05 p.m.

Croatia's prime minister says he expects the refugee flow toward Western Europe to ease after the Nov. 1 parliamentary election in Turkey, the starting point for most migrants' journeys.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Tuesday "in ten days or so, after the vote in Turkey ... you will see the change," according to the state HINA news agency.

European officials appear to be assuming that Turkish officials will have more time to focus on the refugee crisis when the demands of campaigning are over. Colder weather could also put a damper on number venturing into Europe.

More than 260,000 people have passed through Croatia since Sept. 15, when Hungary closed its border with Serbia and the tide streaming toward rich EU nations turned west to Croatia, EU's newest member.

Croatia holds its own parliamentary vote on Nov. 8. Milanovic's leftist government faces a challenge from conservatives, who have criticized its handling of the refugee crisis.

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3:55 p.m.

Slovenia's foreign minister has hinted that the small country may erect a fence along its border with Croatia to stem the influx of tens of thousands of refugees and other migrants.

Karl Erjavec said Tuesday some 12,000-13,000 migrants have been arriving daily since Hungary built a fence on the border with Croatia and the flow was redirected to Slovenia earlier this month.

He says "we don't want them (the migrants) to be dispersed along the length of the border. Certain impediments need to be set up to prevent that. There are various technical possibilities."

Erjavec says he does not want to elaborate what those blockades would be, but added: "You can guess at what can be used to impede."

Around 84,000 people have crossed into Slovenia from Croatia since Oct. 16.

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2:55 p.m.

Croatian police say that a 105-year-old Afghan woman is among the migrants who have arrived at the country's main refugee camp near the border with Serbia.

Police say the woman came to the Opatovac camp around noon Tuesday after crossing from Serbia with a group of migrants. Spokesman Domagoj Dzigumovic says authorities have been checking whether she needs medical attention.

Many children and sick or elderly people have been among the tide of people hoping to reach Western Europe. Dzigumovic says more than 260,000 migrants have entered Croatia since mid-September when the so-called Balkan corridor switched from Hungary to Croatia.

Dzigumovic says the influx of refugees has decreased by 1,000 to 2,000 per day in the past few days, but he stresses that it could intensify again.

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2:50 p.m.

A daily influx of thousands of beleaguered refugees — including many children and elderly people — has put a massive strain on the health care capacities of tiny Slovenia.

Around the border town of Brezice — the arrival point for at least a half of the 84,000 refugees who have entered Slovenia from Croatia over the past 11 days — doctors and nurses have been working around the clock.

The Brezice health center chief, Dr. Miroslav Laktic, says medical teams have helped at least 500 migrants a day as they pass through on their way to Western Europe.

Dr. Katalin Debreceni of Hungarian Caritas charity group says "most of the patients have an upper airways inflammation, coughing, or throat ache and fever. Some children have diarrhea and vomiting."

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2:35 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Europe's refugee crisis can only be solved "step by step" in collaboration with other European Union countries and Turkey. She says the flood of people into Europe can't just be switched off.

Merkel's comments Tuesday came after Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer, the most prominent domestic critic of her decision to let in migrants from Hungary last month, called for action from Berlin by Sunday to reduce the migrant influx. He also urged her to complain to neighboring Austria about an uncoordinated flow of new arrivals.

Merkel said: "We cannot flip the switch in one go — we must proceed step by step."

She said she's convinced the number of refugees can be reduced only by acting together with Turkey, Greece and the EU.

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1:50 p.m.

Authorities in Germany and two private individuals have offered rewards totaling 20,000 euros ($22,000) in a fresh bid to find 4-year-old Bosnian migrant child and a man who may have abducted him.

CCTV video shows Mohamed Januzi leaving the central registration center for migrants in Berlin with an unidentified man on Oct. 1.

Mohammed is described as being about 1 meter (3.3 feet) tall with dark hair. The man is described as being of European appearance, aged 35 to 50, slim with dark hair and a beard.

Police in the German capital on Tuesday posted new pictures of Mohammed and amateur video of the man in the hope of getting new leads in the three-week old case.

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1:45 p.m.

Croatian police say the first train carrying asylum seekers directly to Slovenia has left a station in eastern Croatia.

This will be the first time the migrants are not unloaded on fields close to Slovenia's border with Croatia, but will be taken straight to the Slovenian border village of Dobova.

There are some 1,300 people on the train.

The hectic procedure of transporting tens of thousands of migrants from Croatia to Slovenia has created tensions between the neighboring EU countries.

Slovenia, which has been struggling to cope with the influx, has accused Croatia of uncontrolled dispatch of people to its border.

Around 84,000 migrants have entered Slovenia when the flow of people was rerouted to the small Alpine nation after Hungary sealed its border with Croatia on Oct. 16.

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1:35 p.m.

A non-governmental organization that helps refugees in the Czech Republic says the European Court for Human Rights has ordered the country to release an Afghan family from a controversial migrant center.

Martin Rozumek from the Organization for Aid to Refugees, which filed a complaint against the Sept. 1 detention of the six people, says the Strasbourg-based court made a preliminary ruling that they have to be released from the Bela-Jezova center by Wednesday midnight.

The Interior Ministry says the family will be released because there's no reason anymore for their detention.

The conditions in Bela-Jezova have been criticized by the head of the U.N. refugee agency, the Czech Republic's ombudsman and others as particularly unsuitable for children.

Rozumek says a boy from the family suffered from epilepsy.

The Czechs routinely detain for weeks all the migrants who do not have proper documents — a practice repeatedly criticized by rights groups.

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1:05 p.m.

Slovenia has warned it will tighten border entry for migrants if an EU plan to stem their flow across the Balkans fails.

Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said late Monday that the new measures would include the closure of a number of border check points with Croatia if it keeps on sending large number of migrants to the frontier.

EU and Balkan leaders agreed at a weekend summit to stem the massive migrant flow by introducing tighter border controls.

Since Oct. 16, when the refugee flow was rerouted to Slovenia after Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia, around 84,000 people have crossed into Slovenia.

The small Alpine nation has been struggling to cope with the influx. It is also mulling erecting a border fence.

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12:55 p.m.

The Czech prime minister says his government is ready to agree to a proposal to take in 152 Christians who are currently in camps in the Iraqi city of Irbil.

Bohuslav Sobotka says the group were force to flee their homes due to advancing Islamic State extremists in Iraq and their situation is difficult. Sobotka says they approached the Czech Republic with a request for asylum through a non-governmental organization.

Sobotka says Interior Minister Milan Chovanec will present a proposal for the government to accept them after talks scheduled with the United Nations for next week to clarify their status.

He says the government will share the expenses for their moving to the Czech Republic with NGOs.

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12:30 p.m.

Romania's president has called the prime minister for talks about the migrant crisis after the pair traded insults over the situation.

President Klaus Iohannis reprimanded Prime Minister Victor Ponta for meeting the prime ministers of Bulgaria and Serbia in Sofia this weekend where the three agreed they would close their borders to refugees if Germany and Austria decide to close their borders.

Iohannis accused Ponta on Monday of failing to consult him before going to Sofia and becoming increasingly "bellicose" to divert attention from corruption charges against him. Ponta then called Iohannis "a deaf man at a dance."

Iohannis attended an emergency summit in Brussels on the migrant crisis on Sunday. According to Romania's constitution, the president is in charge of foreign policy.

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12:05 p.m.

Germany's Interior Ministry says Berlin will send five police officers to Slovenia this week to help prepare a European support deployment for the country's border guards.

The ministry said Tuesday that the federal police officers will "support the conceptual preparation of the European police deployment," though Germany is still considering whether to participate in the actual deployment.

European leaders meeting on Sunday decided to dispatch 400 border guards to Slovenia as it struggles to cope with an influx of migrants. The flow was diverted through the tiny Alpine country when Hungary closed its borders.

Germany's federal police have long participated in international missions abroad and are heavily engaged at present in conducting border checks at home.

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11:05 a.m.

The European Union is lashing member countries for dragging their feet on providing funds and experts to help manage Europe's biggest refugee emergency in decades.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told EU lawmakers Tuesday that "the member states have been moving slowly at a time when they should be running."

The EU's border agency Frontex has appealed for 775 experts to help register, screen and fingerprint people arriving in Italy and Greece.

But so far only about half that number has been pledged.

Juncker said that "half is not enough, we need more."

He said more funds and experts are "crucially essential if we want operational decisions to be implemented," and warned that the EU is "losing all kinds of credibility."

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11:00 a.m.

French authorities are taking nearly 300 migrants out of a bulging, slum-like camp in Calais and busing them to other regions of France.

The operation Tuesday is aimed at relieving pressure on the port city and the camp, known locally as "the jungle," which is believed to have doubled in size in recent weeks to as many as 6,000 people.

Months of new security measures and tough warnings from British and French authorities have failed to stop asylum-seekers and others from converging on Calais, from where they hope to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.

The local administration said in a statement that social workers have identified 292 people willing to abandon their effort to reach Britain and apply for asylum in France instead. It said the newcomers will be bused to temporary housing centers from Provence to Brittany and Lorraine.

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10:45 a.m.

Germany is considering sending police officers to Slovenia following Sunday's decision by a summit of European leaders to dispatch 400 border guards to the small Alpine nation as it struggles to cope with the influx of migrants.

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that Germany's federal police force, whose responsibilities include guarding borders, is examining possible participation in the deployment.

It didn't say how many officers might be deployed but noted that federal police are already busy with border checks at home and pointed to an existing pledge to provide 50 extra officers to help the EU border agency, Frontex, in Greece.

The federal police help provide security for German embassies abroad and also have long participated in international missions in countries including Kosovo and Afghanistan.

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9:05 a.m.

Bavaria's governor is pressing Chancellor Angela Merkel to complain to her Austrian counterpart about an uncoordinated flow of migrants toward Germany's border.

Governor Horst Seehofer, who has been the most prominent domestic critic of Merkel's decision last month to allow in migrants who had piled up in Hungary, was quoted Tuesday as telling the daily Passauer Neue Presse: "This behavior by Austria is burdening neighborly relations. We can and must not treat each other this way."

Seehofer said it's up to Merkel, who made last month's decision along with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, to speak to the Austrians.

Most migrants who have arrived in Austria from Hungary and more recently Slovenia have simply continued to Germany. All of Germany's border with Austria is in Bavaria.