The Latest: Norway, Russia to talk on migrant deportations

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 24, 2016 12:51 PM
The Latest: Norway, Russia to talk on migrant deportations

ORESTIADA, Greece (AP) — The latest developments in Europe's immigration crisis (all times local):

7:50 p.m.

Norway says it will hold talks with Moscow on Monday to discuss the deportation of asylum-seekers to Russia who have arrived in the Scandinavian country across their northern border.

Ann-Magrit Austena, spokeswoman for the Norwegian Organization for Asylum-Seekers, says the meeting comes after Russia announced it would discontinue accepting the return of asylum-seekers at the Storskog border post for "security reasons." So far, Norway has returned 230 migrants at the Arctic frontier post but stopped the deportations last week, citing a lack of buses and staff on the Russian side of the border.

Austena said Sunday that police had released 82 asylum-seekers who had been detained for fear they might flee but they were ordered not to leave an asylum-center near the border. Three other asylum-seekers are seeking refuge in a church in the far northern city of Kirkenes.

Last year, some 5,500 people crossed from Russia at the remote Arctic border post, many on bicycles. Officials said many of the migrants had permits to stay in Russia, where they had been living for years, and did not qualify for asylum.

___

7:15 p.m.

Shop owners and business people have demonstrated in the northern French city of Calais to call attention to the impact that Europe's migrant crisis is having on their town's local economy.

Calais has become a flashpoint in Europe's migrant crisis as thousands of migrants seeking to cross into Britain camp out in squalid conditions. Periodically the migrants wreak havoc on service at the Calais port and nearby rail facilities.

Local official Jean-Marc Puissesseau estimated that passenger numbers in the port have fallen by 40,000 compared to a year ago. Shops and restaurants also complain about losses due to the migrant crisis.

Up to 2,000 people took park in Sunday's demonstration, waving "I love Calais" flags and flying a banner reading "My port is beautiful, my city is beautiful."

___

5:30 p.m.

A British official says the government is considering whether to let unaccompanied minors settle in Britain.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening spoke Sunday as the U.K. faced mounting calls to do more to help migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Greening indicated the government may decide to let several thousand child migrants into the country.

No decision has yet been made.

British charities and the leaders of opposition parties urged the government to let 3,000 more children start a new life in Britain.

Britain has said so far it will allow 20,000 Syrian refugees to settle in the next five years. In contrast, last year over 1 million asylum-seekers entered Germany.

___

3:25 p.m.

A protest in northern Greece calling on the government to grant safe passage to refugees across the land border to Turkey has ended.

The rally was attended by about 700 people and stopped about 200 meters from the Turkish border.

Human rights groups and local activists say the fence and police patrols along Greece's 200-kilometer border are forcing asylum-seekers from Syria and other conflict areas to pay hefty sums to smugglers and risk their lives to reach Europe by sea.

Police allowed a small delegation of protesters to walk to a border point Sunday and hang up a protest banner.

At end of rally, lead organizer Petros Constantinou said: "We will never accept this policy being dictated by Europe's politicians ... who close borders to refugees and force them to risk their lives."

___

2:50 p.m.

Police in northern Greece have blocked protesters from reaching a border post on the Greek-Turkish frontier.

Riot police set up the blockade in the border village of Kastanies, where several hundred activists burned a European Union flag and chanted "open the borders."

The demonstrators from Athens and elsewhere in Greece are rallying for a second day in the border region, in the wake of more migrant deaths in the eastern Aegean Sea.

They are demanding that Greece ease transit restrictions at the border, where access is blocked by a 10.5-kilometer (6 1/2-mile) fence.

Protest organizer Petros Constantinou said: "We have every right to go to the border post and demonstrate. We have given authorities ample notification."

___

2:00 p.m.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says the country's newly introduced cap on the number of refugees allowed into the country will likely be reached in a few months.

Mikl-Leitner has told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that the maximum number of 37,500 refugees would probably be reached before the summer.

The Austrian minister said Sunday that once the cap had been reached the country would either refuse to accept further asylum application or reject refugees on the border.

More than 1 million people from countries like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan entered Europe last year in the biggest migration to the continent since World War II. They mostly went to Germany and other wealthy EU nations.

___

1:50 p.m.

Demonstrators have gathered for a second day near Greece's border with Turkey, calling on the government to grant safe passage to refugees at the frontier.

Several hundred protesters traveled to the border town of Orestiada, near a 10.5-kilometer (6 1/2-mile) border fence.

Human rights groups and local activists say the fence and police patrols along Greece's 200-kilometer border are forcing asylum-seekers from Syria and other conflict areas, to pay hefty sums to smugglers and risk their lives to reach Europe by sea.

Two migrant boats sunk in the eastern Aegean Sea earlier this week, killing at least 46 people, including more than a dozen children.

The protesters chanting "Pull down the fence. Open the borders," are planning to travel in a bus convoy to the edge of a military area that includes the border fence, and onto a nearby border crossing point.