The Latest: 11 migrants drown off Turkey, 7 others rescued

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 22, 2015 12:36 PM
The Latest: 11 migrants drown off Turkey, 7 others rescued

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The latest on the continuing flow of refugees and other migrants into Europe. All times local:

7:30 p.m.

Turkish media say 11 migrants including three children crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece have drowned after their boat capsized, and seven others were rescued by the Turkish coast guard.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said the Turkish coast guard spotted the refugees Tuesday during a routine patrol off the coast of southwest Aydin province. The DHA agency said the seven survivors were Syrians and the boat was heading to the Greek island of Samos.

DHA broadcast images of men, women and children waiting next to a line of blue body bags as rescuers in boats and a helicopter continued to search for survivors. It was not immediately clear how many people were on the boat that sank.

With just days left in 2015, the Geneva-based International Organization for Migrants says more than 1 million asylum-seekers have entered Europe as of Monday. Almost all came by sea, while 3,692 drowned in the attempt.

___

4:55 p.m.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has sharply criticized the European Union's policy on migration as the continent faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

In his annual speech before Parliament Tuesday, Ivanov accused the EU of having a dysfunctional system for distributing refugees among member states. He also criticized it for allowing some countries not to register migrants and refugees, and for allowing member states to take unilateral decisions on the issue.

Ivanov said more than 700,000 people have passed through Macedonia so far this year, and that his country had been left to cope with the crisis alone.

"The migrant and refugee crisis reminds us that we are left alone," Ivanov said, adding that Macedonia "bears the consequences of the failure of the union."

___

4:40 p.m.

Surprise inspections by European Union experts of Belgian airports have shown that the country lacks the resources and techniques to properly conduct border checks.

A report on Europe's passport-free zone presented to EU lawmakers on Tuesday said Belgium's big challenges are linked to its "capacity to manage the situation at its air borders."

The report was drawn up for the European Commission, and the EU's executive arm is following up on the findings of the unannounced inspections in Belgium.

It said that "gaps identified concern insufficient resources and correct execution of border checks."

The report also noted Belgium's struggle to manage migrant movements toward Britain, and said the country lacks national legislation to process alerts signaled by the passport-free area's main database.

___

4:30 p.m.

A salvaged dinghy has been suspended in the nave of a central London church for the Christmas holidays as a reminder of the human toll of the migrant crisis.

It is part of an installation called "Flight" by artist Arabella Dorman that also includes three suspended life jackets.

The partially deflated boat at St. James's Church in the Piccadilly neighborhood was used earlier this year to carry 62 migrants from Turkey to the island of Lesbos in Greece. It was designed for far fewer passengers.

The Rev. Lucy Winkett said Tuesday it is important for the church to reach out to all people "who are experiencing displacement and danger" as Christians mark the birth of Christ.

___

12:50 p.m.

Luxembourg's foreign minister says the European Union has until now failed in responding to the hundreds of thousands of people that have streamed into Europe from conflict-torn countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Jean Asselborn said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Tuesday that the 28-member bloc has made "a lot of progress" in some areas such as relocating people from frontline countries overwhelmed by migrants — such as Greece — to other EU member states.

But he says the EU now needs to "very, very quickly" implement decisions the EU's executive arm decided last week.

The official said the EU needs a stronger Frontex, Europe's border guard agency, so that it's better able to control the bloc's external borders.