Europe's migration wave: Latest developments

AP News
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Posted: Aug 14, 2015 10:25 AM
Europe's migration wave: Latest developments

Nations across Europe are struggling to provide food, shelter and other assistance to the tens of thousands of migrants arriving by sea or land. Here are the latest developments Friday:

GREECE: A passenger ferry that can hold 2,500 people has reached the Greek holiday island of Kos to provide temporary accommodation and act as a screening center for crowds of Syrian refugees sleeping rough after crossing from Turkey in flimsy boats.

The Eleftherios Venizelos will begin work Saturday, replacing an old stadium criticized for its lack of basic amenities.

Major-General Zacharoula Tsirigoti, head of the Greek police's aliens and border protection branch, said all the Syrians who had arrived on Kos by late Thursday have now been screened. She said the ferry will stay on for about two weeks to cater to new arrivals.

At least two rubber boats safely made the 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) crossing from Turkey early Friday, but the Greek coast guard said it rescued nearly 600 refugees and migrants at sea, in 21 separate incidents.

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HUNGARY: In the Balkans, migrants taking the overland route to the EU are dashing to try to cross from Serbia into EU member Hungary before the Hungarian government finishes building a razor-wire fence.

Some 1,000 migrants per day tried to cross before Hungary announced plans for the fence a few months ago. That number has shot up to 1,500.

Among them is Adnan, who gave only his first name, fearing deportation if he makes it to the West. He insists: "We are not afraid. What could be worse than the bloodshed we left behind in Syria?"

Adnan is in a group of about 50, including a 2-month-old baby and a boy whose parents drowned when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean. They didn't make it across the border this time, but they vow to try again and again.

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AUSTRIA: Amnesty International says unaccompanied children are among more than 1,000 people camping in the open at Austria's main migrant center, and is highlighting other major rights violations caused by overcrowding at the Traiskirchen center, south of Vienna.

Members of the Amnesty team that visited the center Aug. 6 spoke of migrants seeking out shady areas of the center's grounds to escape from relentless heat, and of showers without curtains shared by both sexes. They said four doctors and three psychologists, working only a few hours a day, are responsible for the care of the more than 4,000 people at Traiskirchen.

"Showers for women were organized like a peep-show," says Amnesty Austria head Heinz Patzelt. "I am unspeakably angry."

In a statement, the Interior Ministry, acknowledged a "precarious situation" at the center, describing it as an "extraordinary situation" resulting from a surge of migrants seeking asylum.

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STATISTICS: The International Organization for Migration says the number of migrants and asylum-seekers who have crossed the Mediterranean this year will pass the quarter-million mark by the end of the month — more than half of those arriving in Greece.

The Geneva-based IOM said Friday that financially struggling Greece has reported 134,988 arrivals from Turkey this year, while Italy recorded 93,540 newcomers up to the end of July. Adding in arrivals in Spain and Malta, the group says that 237,000 people have made the crossing in 2015.

The figure for the whole of last year was 219,000.

The IOM estimates that at least 2,300 people have died trying to make the crossing this year.