The Latest: UN chief: Border limits violate 'human decency'

AP News
Posted: Mar 01, 2016 3:52 PM
The Latest: UN chief: Border limits violate 'human decency'

IDOMENI, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says border restrictions being imposed in Europe to stem the flow of migrants "are not in line with international law or with common human decency."

Ban made the comments Tuesday in Madrid after Greek police said up to 10,000 mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees were stuck at the country's Idomeni border crossing in deteriorating conditions.

The Idomeni crossing has become a key flashpoint in Europe's migration crisis. Several nations led by Austria have imposed refugee caps and border restrictions over the past 10 days, creating a huge backlog of migrants in Greece.

Ban says he's concerned about the restrictions along land migration routes, adding that "every asylum seeker has the right to his or her application to be considered individually."


5:55 p.m.

Senior police officials from countries along the so-called Balkan migrant corridor have agreed to work together to establish a flow of migrants along the route that will ease the pressure at the border between Greece and Macedonia.

Officials from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria said Tuesday that control of the region's borders is crucial to prevent illegal entry, while allowing through those who have the right to seek asylum in EU countries. They say joint profiling of migrants is necessary to determine who can proceed.

Serbian police director Vladimir Rebic says "we didn't discuss quotas, but how to prevent misuse." He warns uncontrolled migrant flows present a security risk.

Tighter entry rules by the Balkan countries have slowed down the movement along the route, leaving thousands stranded in Greece.


5:30 p.m.

Greece's main media union is deploring the left-led government's decision to suspend media access to all migrant registration and transit camps in the country.

The POESY union is urging the government to "immediately rescind" the ban.

In a statement Tuesday, the union said there can be no excuse for restricting fundamental rights, and said reporting on the immigration crisis should include living conditions at migrant centers.

The government argued that the decision was dictated by overcrowding at migrant facilities.


4:40 p.m.

The German government says Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Friday to prepare for a European Union summit with Turkey.

Merkel views diplomacy with Turkey as the key to reducing the influx of migrants to European Union member Greece. She is resisting pressure for national restrictions like the cap on incoming refugees imposed by Austria.

EU leaders are to meet Turkey's prime minister in Brussels on Monday in an effort to push forward efforts to protect the bloc's external border.


4:10 p.m.

Austria's chancellor is holding firm on border restrictions choking the flow of migrants along the Balkan route to West Europe, reflecting the failure of a top EU official to persuade him to change his mind.

Werner Faymann insists his country must control its borders to stop the "unorganized chaos" he says has characterized the EU's approach to dealing with the migrant crisis.

He said Tuesday that Austria is neither a "waiting room for Germany" nor— in an allusion to Greece — prepared to accept the "policy of waving through" migrants to the rest of the EU through Austria.

Faymann spoke after meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk. Indirectly rejecting the Austrian restrictions, Tusk said all EU nations need to get back to fully applying "common rules" of open borders.


3:45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the buildup of migrants at the Greek-Macedonian border isn't comparable to the situation last September, when she agreed to let in thousands of people who had piled up in Hungary.

Merkel said after meeting Croatia's prime minister on Tuesday that preparations have been made in recent months to deal with the hundreds of people arriving daily in Greece. She said: "There are accommodation possibilities ... in Greece, they should be used by the refugees."

Merkel reiterated that the aim is to have a mechanism to distribute refugees arriving in Greece to other European countries. She stressed "there is not a right for a refugee to say, 'I want to get asylum in a particular country in the European Union.'"

Germany saw nearly 1.1 million people register as asylum-seekers last year.


2:50 p.m.

The head of Europe's border control agency says the numbers of migrants crossing into Europe in January and February this year was thirty times higher than the levels reached at the same time last year.

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri spoke Tuesday in the Turkish capital of Ankara. He is in Turkey to discuss border management and the fight against smugglers. His visit came as Turkey is under pressure to deliver on a pledge to crack down on the huge numbers of migrants trying to cross into Greece.

The Frontex chief welcomed the creation within the Turkish national police of a special center to fight smugglers.

Leggeri said: "The struggle against smugglers is necessary to ensure that the migrants are not victims of these traffickers."


12:15 p.m.

About two dozen migrants protesting the demolition of a sprawling camp in northern France are occupying shanty rooftops, and are surrounded by police.

The slow tear-down of the encampment in Calais is continuing, angering migrants who live there in squalid conditions in hopes of reaching a better life in Britain.

In Tuesday's protest, a man and a woman on a rooftop warned police not to come closer. But police moved in, and the woman sliced her wrists. The man was beaten with batons and both were removed from the roof. The woman was conscious, but her condition wasn't immediately known.

French authorities are blaming the activist group No Borders for the ongoing unrest.

Calais is temporary home to an estimated 4,000 migrants, down from 6,000 in December.


11:20 a.m.

More than 7,000 refugees and other migrants are camped on Greece's northern border with Macedonia, waiting for authorities to allow them to continue their long trek north to seek asylum in wealthier European countries.

The Idomeni crossing has been closed for nearly 24 hours, following clashes when hundreds of migrants tried to force their way into Macedonia, whose police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Hundreds of small tents stood Tuesday in the fields around an official migrant camp on the Greek side of the border that can take no more people.

Some migrants have been waiting at Idomeni for more than a week, as even when the border is open Macedonia allows in no more than a few hundred, citing a similar policy by Serbia further north.