The Latest: UN rights chief rejects anti-migrant moves

AP News
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Posted: Nov 16, 2015 7:49 PM
The Latest: UN rights chief rejects anti-migrant moves

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local.

2:40 a.m.

The U.N. human rights chief is sharply rejecting anti-migrant actions in Europe in the wake of the Paris attacks.

"One cannot conceive of a European continent which is going to thrive economically if borders are ... fenced off with walls and barbed wire and machine gun nests and observation towers," U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said Monday night in a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"In a century where finance and capital can move in a nanosecond ... we're going to have long lines at borders while every vehicle is checked and X-rayed to make sure there are no migrants hiding in the fuel tank?" he asked.

Zeid added of the migrants: "They all have their human rights. They all should not be abused."

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11:45 p.m.

A new U.N. report says migrants held in Libyan detention centers have reported abuses including whippings with metal rods and cables, racial insults, overcrowding and a lack of potable water.

The report released Monday by the U.N. mission to the chaotic north African country calls conditions in Libya's detention centers "inhuman."

Thousands of refugees and migrants have set off from Libya in recent months on sometimes deadly journeys toward Europe. The U.N. and others have warned that the chaos in the country, which remains split between two rival governments, is allowing smugglers of migrants and refugees to thrive.

The new report says migrants and refugees face "torture and other ill-treatment upon arrest" in detention centers run by government migration authorities — and even run directly by some armed groups.

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10:40 p.m.

An official says Cypriot authorities won't consider the asylum applications of six individuals from among 114 migrants whose boats landed on the shores of a British air base on Cyprus last month because of unspecified security reasons.

The Cypriot government official said Monday information authorities have collected on these individuals offers reason to refuse processing their asylum claim. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to publicly discuss security matters, didn't elaborate on what the information pertains to.

He didn't rule out the possibility that Cypriot authorities could refuse asylum claims for other applicants on similar grounds.

Under an existing agreement with U.K. authorities, Cyprus is charged with processing asylum claims filed by migrants who arrive directly to the two bases that Britain maintains on the east Mediterranean island.

But the Cypriot official said the agreement includes a provision under which Cypriot authorities can refuse to consider asylum claims on security grounds.

--By Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus.

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6:10 p.m.

Security officers at both sides of the Slovenia-Austria border are conducting detailed security checks of thousands of migrants crossing toward western Europe, in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The migrants, fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, were body searched and their belongings were scanned on Monday at the Sentilj border crossing as authorities in both countries stepped up security after 129 people were killed in the Paris violence on Friday.

One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up outside the national soccer stadium in Paris was identified as having traveled the so-called Balkan migrant corridor in October with a Syrian passport.

The detailed searches have caused a large pileup of migrants on the border.

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6 p.m.

Officials say they are investigating clashes between pro and anti-migrant demonstrators near the main border entry point into Austria used by those looking for a better life in the EU.

District Commissioner Manfred Walch said Monday the weekend unrest near the Spielfeld crossing from Slovenia involved members of about 500 pro- and 800 anti-migrant protesters.

Police say about 80 vehicles and several fences were damaged in Sunday's melee.

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2:55 p.m.

Hungary's strongly anti-immigration prime minister says the European Union is "weak, uncertain and paralyzed" in light of the migrant crisis.

Viktor Orban told lawmakers Monday that the EU plan to distribute migrants among member countries is unlawful and will "spread terrorism around Europe."

Orban said no one could say for certain how many terrorists entered Europe by blending in with migrants, but "one terrorist is too many."

Orban said the EU needs to "forget political correctness ... and return to common sense" by adopting policies to protect its external borders, its culture and its economic interests and ensure that people are given the right to influence EU decisions.

Hungary has built fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia to divert the flow of migrants.

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12:01 p.m.

Poland's new foreign minister says that young Syrian refugees in Europe could be formed into an army that could fight for Syria's freedom.

Witold Waszczykowski made the statements late Sunday on state TV. He is to be the foreign minister in the new conservative government of the Law and Justice party that is to be sworn in on Monday.

"If hundreds of thousands of young Syrians have entered Europe, they could be formed into an army," Waszczykowski said. "With our help they could fight their country back."

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9:40 a.m.

Greek authorities say 1,244 refugees and economic migrants have been rescued from frail craft in danger over the past three days in the Aegean Sea, as thousands continue to arrive on the Greek islands.

A coast guard statement Monday said rescuers responded to a total 34 incidents since Friday morning, near the islands of Lesbos — where most migrants head — Chios, Samos, Kos, Kalolimnos and Megisti.

The count does not include thousands more people who safely made the short but often deadly crossing from nearby Turkey's western coast.

Greece is the main point of entry for hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa seeking a better life in Europe. Several hundreds have drowned making the crossing, which is arranged by smuggling gangs in Turkey.