The Latest: Turkey: Migrant deal proceeding 'successfully'

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2016 12:55 PM
The Latest: Turkey: Migrant deal proceeding 'successfully'

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on European efforts to cope with an influx of refugees and migrants (all times local):

7:55 p.m.

Turkey's deputy prime minister says a deal with the European Union on the return of migrants from Greece is proceeding "successfully."

Numan Kurtulmus said Tuesday "there is no question of it being stopped. This is a process that is continuing successfully."

The European Union began sending back migrants Monday under an agreement with Turkey, but Greek authorities said thousands of people being held in migrant detention camps have applied for asylum — which could slow the rate of returns.

On Monday some 202 migrants from 11 countries were sent back to Turkey on boats from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios. In return as part of the agreement, dozens of Syrians were flown to Germany, Finland and the Netherlands on Monday and Tuesday.

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3:30 p.m.

Danish police say a law passed two months ago that requires refugees and migrants to hand over valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner ($1,500) has not resulted to a single seizure.

The law was intended to help cover migrants' housing and food costs for migrants while their cases are being processed.

National Police spokesman Thomas Kristensen told the AP Tuesday that none of the migrants valuables above the specified limit.

Human rights activists and artists had denounced the legislation as degrading and inhumane.

Last year, Denmark received about 20,000 asylum-seekers, one of the highest rates per capita in the EU.

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2 p.m.

Turkey's prime minister says the country has sent 78 Syrian refugees to Europe on the first working day of a European Union plan to curb migration.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said of the 202 migrants returned Monday from Greece to Turkey, 199 non-Syrians were taken to a deportation center in northwest Turkey. He says an unaccompanied minor was put into the care of the Family Affairs Ministry and two Syrians were sent to an admissions center in Izmir.

Under the deal, migrants who reach Greece from March 20 on will be sent back to Turkey unless they qualify for asylum. For every Syrian returned, Europe will take a Syrian refugee from Turkey to be resettled in an EU country.

Davutoglu said the new policy should deter illegal migration and "the Aegean Sea will cease to be a graveyard for migrants." Hundreds of migrants have drowned this year trying to cross from Turkey to Greece in smuggling boats.

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1:45 p.m.

Thirty-one Syrian refugees have been flown from Turkey to the Netherlands as part of the European Union's deal with Ankara aimed at breaking Turkey's smuggling rings and easing Europe's migration crisis.

Dutch Justice Ministry spokeswoman Janet Takens says the group arrived Tuesday morning and were sent to an asylum-seekers' center. She declined to give further details, citing privacy considerations.

The government says the Syrians already have been interviewed by Dutch immigration authorities in Turkey who established that they are eligible to asylum.

The deal involves the EU sending back to Turkey migrants deemed ineligible for asylum in Europe while at the same time accepting Syrian migrants currently in Turkey who do have legitimate asylum claims.

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1:10 p.m.

Austria's defense minister says he expects to start implementing tougher controls on the country's border with Italy within the next few weeks to meet an increase in attempted migrant crossings.

Hans Peter Doskozil says about 5,000 people fleeing war and other threats or looking for better lives have tried to cross over his country's border with Italy over the past few weeks.

He told reporters Tuesday that "we expect that Austria will likely implement "restrictive controls over the next few weeks."

He says the army is ready to increase its presence at the border by hundreds of soldiers, if needed.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says she plans to meet with her Italian counterpart on Friday before the start of any new border restrictions.

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12:55 p.m.

Serbian police say they have arrested six suspected people-smugglers after finding 34 migrants — including 15 minors — hidden in a truck which allegedly had illegally crossed the border from Bulgaria.

The six detained suspects are facing charges of smuggling people and illegal crossing of the state border. Police say they have confiscated three vehicles, six mobile phones and 65,000 euros ($73,000.)

Migrants fleeing war and poverty and hoping to reach Western Europe have been turning to people-smugglers to take them over the borders after countries along the former Balkan migrant corridor closed the borders few months ago.

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12:25 p.m.

A Turkish coast guard official says 55 migrants hoping to reach Europe were apprehended the first day the agreement between Turkey and the European Union went into effect.

The official, who said the migrants of "various nationalities" were intercepted off Turkey's western coast, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

As part of the EU-Turkey agreement, 202 migrants and refugees who had not applied for asylum in Greece were returned to Turkey Monday from Greek islands. No transfers were planned Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a German-flagged NATO ship patrolled the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece as part of the alliance's mission to help end the deadly smuggling of asylum-seekers.

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12:05 p.m.

Authorities in Greece have suspended deportations to Turkey and acknowledged that most migrants and refugees detained on Greek islands have applied for asylum.

The European Union began sending back migrants Monday under an agreement with Turkey, but no transfers were planned Tuesday.

Maria Stavropoulou, director of Greece's Asylum Service, told state TV that some 3,000 people held in deportation camps on the islands are seeking asylum, with the application process to formally start by the end of the week.

She says asylum applications typically take about three months to process, but would be "considerably faster" for those held in detention.

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11:55 a.m.

Austrian police say they have detained a man on suspicion of smuggling migrants after 14 Iranian, Pakistani and Uzbek nationals were seen leaving a van he was driving.

They said Tuesday that the suspect was taken into custody Monday evening near Austria's border with Hungary.

The van had Bulgarian license plates. Police say the suspect denies wrongdoing. He was not identified in line with Austrian privacy laws.