The Latest: Migrant arrivals in Netherlands doubled in 2015

AP News
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Posted: Jan 08, 2016 12:19 PM
The Latest: Migrant arrivals in Netherlands doubled in 2015

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest on the flow of migrants through Europe. All times local:

7:20 p.m.

The Dutch government says the flow of migrants into the country nearly doubled in 2015 to a record 59,100 amid the surge of people fleeing to Europe from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The previous annual record was 52,575 in 1994.

The total announced Friday by the Justice Ministry was made up of 43,090 first-time arrivals to the country, 1,940 people making a second or further asylum request and 14,070 people who were reunited with family members already in the Netherlands.

Just as elsewhere in Europe, Dutch society is wrestling how to cope with the influx. Reactions have ranged from outpourings of sympathy and offers of help to angry demonstrations in towns planning to host new asylum-seeker centers to house the arrivals.

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7:10 p.m.

Turkey has started implementing visa restrictions for Syrians entering the country by air or by sea as part of its efforts to stem the flow of migrants to Europe.

The visa restrictions, which came into effect on Friday, won't apply to Syrian refugees who cross the Syrian-Turkish border by land to flee the conflict in Syria.

The move aims to stop Syrians from flying into Turkey from other countries to then try to illegally cross into Greece and make their way to other European nations.

Previously, Syrians were able to enter Turkey without visas.

Turkey is home to more than 2 million Syrian refugees. On Thursday, the European Union said Turkey is not doing enough to decrease the flow of migrants.

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6:20 p.m.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico says the EU has to speed up plans to create a border and coast guard agency aimed at improving the protection of the bloc's external borders following the assaults and robberies during the New Year's Eve festivities in Cologne.

The new agency would monitor the EU's borders and have the right to send guards, ships, planes or other assets when countries are unable or unwilling to enforce border laws.

Fico says that EU leaders should meet at an extraordinary summit to discuss the plan and that he is approaching European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU President Donald Tusk about it.

Fico has previously said his government sees what he calls a "clear link" between the waves of refugees and the Paris attacks and the sexual assaults in Germany.

German police have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects in connection with the assaults.

Slovakia holds parliamentary elections in early March and the migrant crisis has become a hot issue for Fico, a populist leader, whose leftist Smer-Social Democracy is favored to win.

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2:45 p.m.

Hungary's prime minister says that the flow of migrants entering the European Union must be fully stopped, not just slowed.

Viktor Orban said Friday on state radio that ending the migrant flow would be "the decisive issue of 2016" and called for the construction of a "European defense line" on Greece's northern borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.

Orban said on state radio that "since no one except us Hungarians protected their external Schengen borders, defenses, visa systems, border controls and fences are being created inside" Schengen's visa-free travel zone.

Orban said "we are increasingly losing the possibility of free movement."

More than 390,000 migrants passed through Hungary in 2015 on their way to Germany and other western EU destinations, but hardly any entered after Hungary erected fences in September and October on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia.

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12:20 p.m.

Turkish state media says rescuers have pulled out two more bodies from the wreckage of a bus that crashed into a car in northwest Turkey, raising the death toll to six.

The bus was driving migrants who were hoping to reach Greece, when it slammed into a car on a bridge on Friday and fell onto a river bed. The passengers were from Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar.

The crash killed two people inside the bus and two passengers riding in the car. But rescuers later discovered the bodies of two children inside the wreckage, Anadolu Agency reported.

Some 30 other people were injured.

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10:40 a.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says a bus carrying migrants hoping to reach Greece has crashed into a car in northern Turkey, killing four people and injuring 30 others.

Anadolu Agency says the bus carrying migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Myanmar slammed into the car on a bridge in the province of Canakkale and fell onto the river bed. The crash killed two people inside the bus and two passengers riding in the car.

The migrants were being driven toward Turkey's northern Aegean coast from where they would have attempted to cross to the Greek island of Lesbos, according to the private Dogan news agency.

This week, the bodies of 36 migrants washed up on Turkey's coast after their boats capsized in rough waters on their way to Lesbos.

The European Union said Thursday Turkey is not doing enough to decrease the flow of migrants into Europe. The EU has offered Turkey 3 billion euros ($3.26 billion) in aid and political concessions, including easing of visa restrictions, in exchange for increased cooperation to stem the flow of migrants.