The Latest: EU urged to do more to protect child migrants

AP News
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Posted: Jan 25, 2016 11:13 AM
The Latest: EU urged to do more to protect child migrants

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

5:10 p.m.

Children's rights advocates are urging the European Union to do more to protect young migrants, warning that if they survive risky boat journeys they often face "malnutrition, physical and mental suffering, health and welfare problems, lack of information and insecurity."

In an open letter to senior European officials Monday, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children urged senior European officials to better protect the fundamental rights of children who are part of the migrant surge.

Dutch children's ombudsman Marc Dullaert says he was shocked by the risks they face. He says, "I thought, and many people are thinking, that when you are in Europe, then you are safe. Well, on the contrary."

As well as poor living conditions in camps, they face the possibility of being sexually abused or exploited by traffickers or smugglers during their trek.

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4:50 p.m.

Swedish police say that a female worker at a shelter for youth and unaccompanied minors was stabbed to death at the center in southwestern Sweden.

Police spokesman Christer Fuxborg says that two people were holding down the male suspect when police arrived on the scene. He said the 22-year-old woman, who wasn't named, died of her wounds later Monday when taken to hospital. The suspect was arrested by police.

Fuxborg said there were signs of a violent fight at the home, which houses about a dozen 16- to 18-year-old migrants and other youth in Molndal, near the port city of Goteborg. He couldn't give further details pending a police investigation.

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2:30 p.m.

The Belgian government says that because Greece is too weak to guard its own borders, it should face an EU "sanction mechanism" under which the rising number of refugees entering the country would effectively be forced to stay there.

Belgian Migration State Secretary Theo Francken told the VRT network that "the Greeks now need to bear the consequences" if internal border controls within the Schengen area, which is supposed to be a passport free zone, are extended for two years, as is currently discussed.

Francken said the Greek "state structure is just too weak to do it themselves - apparently."

Francken raised the specter of setting up "closed facilities" for up to 300,000 people in Greece to be overseen by EU nations. More than 850,000 migrants arrived in Greece last year and almost all try to move on to the European heartland.

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2:15 p.m.

Police say a group of five men have stabbed a Pakistani man to death and wounded two others near Greece's border with Macedonia.

Police say the incident occurred in the early hours of Monday in the Evzones area where thousands of refugees cross into Macedonia to continue their journey toward other, more prosperous, European countries.

Police said the five men, believed to be Afghans, fatally stabbed one Pakistani man in the abdomen, and wounded the other two while also taking money and a mobile phone from one of them.

The two wounded men are being treated in a local hospital.

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1:55 p.m.

A Greek minister has angrily blamed European Union member states for failing to send Athens enough manpower and ships to help it tackle the migrant crisis and for not living up to pledges to relocate migrants.

Immigration Minister Ioannis Mouzalas told reporters on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Amsterdam on Monday that sending officers from the EU border protection force known as Frontex to neighboring Macedonia in an attempt to halt migrants there would be illegal.

It has been suggested that EU border guards would be more effective on the Greek-Macedonian border, but Mouzalas said sending them there is "not a good idea," insisting: "We need Frontex in Greece."

Mouzalas says Greece is doing all it can to protect its sea borders from boatloads of migrants heading from Turkey to nearby Greek islands, but has not been sufficiently helped by fellow EU members. He says Athens wanted 1,800 Frontex officers, but has got only 800.

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1:35 p.m.

The European Union and Turkey have committed to step up their cooperation to stem the relentless flow of migrants into the continent.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara Monday. In a joint statement after the meeting, the two sides acknowledged there is a "need to exert huge effort" to counter the flow and that Ankara needs to do more to fight smuggling networks and the influx of migrants who are not eligible for asylum.

In return, the EU committed to make the promised 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) available to help deal with the refugee crisis in Turkey. So far, the EU nations and institutions have been bickering over how to share the cost.

Cavusoglu warned that the delay was obstructing efforts to improve refugee conditions in Turkey, especially in education and health care. However, Mogherini said she was confident that "the amount will be there." She added that the EU was still preparing how the money would be spent.

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12:15 p.m.

Germany's vice chancellor is dismissing a proposal by a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party to manage the migrant influx by setting up centers at borders from which refugees would be allowed into the country according to daily quotas.

Julia Kloeckner, a deputy leader of Merkel's Christian Democrats, floated her "plan A2" over the weekend. Kloeckner hopes to become governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state in a mid-March election, ousting the center-left Social Democrats.

The Christian Democrats and Social Democrats are traditional rivals but currently govern Germany in a "grand coalition."

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, the Social Democrats' leader, said Monday that Kloeckner's idea is a "campaign action" and is "not practicable."

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert responded cautiously to Kloeckner's proposal. He said that "some of it complements the government's policy, some overlaps with it."

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09:30 a.m.

European Union justice and interior ministers have started urgent discussions on how to tackle the migrant crisis amid the stream of new arrivals and continuing disagreements over how to seal off borders.

Monday's meeting comes days after EU President Donald Tusk warned that Europe's passport-free travel area, known as Schengen, could break apart if the migrant strategy is not sorted out within two months.

Ministers will be seeking to stem the flow through Greece, where authorities are struggling to contain the crossings by boat from Turkey.

Belgium's interior minister, Jan Jambon, says that Greece "has to do what it has to do — namely, controls. And if that is not the case, we need to look closely into that."

EU figures show more than 2,000 people are still arriving daily.