The Latest: Riots at Dutch meeting on building asylum center

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2015 4:53 PM
The Latest: Riots at Dutch meeting on building asylum center

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The latest news on the mass movement of asylum-seekers and migrants to Europe. All times local:

10:50 p.m.

A Dutch municipality's meeting to discuss building a center for asylum-seekers has been abandoned amid rioting by opponents of the plan.

The meeting in Geldermalsen, 70 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of Amsterdam, was called to discuss the municipality's support for establishing a center for 1,500 asylum-seekers, but was disrupted by rowdy protesters who massed outside.

Dutch media reported that riot police fired warning shots to disperse the crowd.

Local mayor Miranda de Vries tweeted that everybody in the meeting hall was safe, adding that she was "through and through sad."

Thousands of migrants have entered the Netherlands this year as part of the massive influx arriving in Europe. Their arrival has caused tensions between hard-line opponents and those who are welcoming to the new arrivals.

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9:35 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the massive flow of migrants and refugees into Europe, Asia and elsewhere shows that this is now a global issue that needs a global solution.

The U.N. chief told a news conference Wednesday that as 2016 approaches "the world needs to aim for a new global compact on human mobility."

Ban expressed appreciation to the European Union for trying to find a framework to address the issue, but noted its serious divisions and said the problem has gone beyond the EU.

He said the United Nations should address the issue in close consultation with the 193 member states to agree on "a global compact for responsibility-sharing."

Ban outlined a roadmap to address migration and refugee issues, starting with a Feb. 4 summit-level conference in London on Syria, a March high-level meeting in Switzerland on resettlement of refugees, the world humanitarian summit in Istanbul in May and a summit at U.N. headquarters on migration on Sept. 19.

He stressed that "demonizing and scapegoating these people based on their religion, ethnicity or country of origin has no place in the 21st century."

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6 p.m.

Greek authorities say two people have drowned and 83 others have been rescued after a wooden boat crammed with refugees sank in the Aegean Sea off the eastern Greek island of Lesbos.

The coast guard says a large search-and-rescue operation with the European Frontex border agency was underway late Wednesday, searching for other survivors or victims. It was unclear how many people had been on the boat.

The two dead were identified as a man and a young girl.

The Greek islands are the main destination for those seeking a better life in Europe. Nearly 800,000 people have cross over from Turkey this year in flimsy boats provided by Turkish smuggling gangs. Hundreds have drowned.

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3:25 p.m.

Greek and European border authorities have launched a search and rescue operation in the eastern Aegean Sea after reports that a boat carrying dozens of migrants sank off the island of Lesbos leaving two dead.

The Greek coastguard says a helicopter, patrol boats and fishing boats are combing an area north of Lesbos for survivors, but no reliable information is yet available on how many people were on the boat and if anybody drowned.

Boats from the European Frontex border agency were assisting.

Greek state ERT TV said two people have been reported dead from Wednesday's incident, and about 70 have been rescued.

Lesbos is the main destination for migrants seeking a better life in Europe who cross over from nearby Turkey in flimsy boats provided by Turkish smuggling gangs.

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12:15 p.m.

Norway has created a new immigration and integration ministry in response to a large influx of asylum-seekers and migrants.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg says the numbers of immigrants had put "too much pressure" on Justice Minister Anders Anundsen, whose portfolio has been split with the creation of the new ministry.

Sylvi Listhaug of the right-wing Progress Party — the junior partner in the ruling right-leaning coalition — on Wednesday became new minister for immigration and integration.

Norway has received more than 30,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.