The Latest: Redgrave appeals for help for Greece on migrants

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 11:05 AM
The Latest: Redgrave appeals for help for Greece on migrants

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest developments as tens of thousands of people flee to Europe in search of asylum. All times local.

6 p.m.

British actress and activist Vanessa Redgrave is appealing for governments internationally to assist Greece in helping the hundreds of thousands of migrants transiting the country in search of a better life in Europe.

Redgrave says Greece has given "the lesson of humanity" to the world but can't solve the problem on its own.

She spoke during a visit to a migrant shelter in Athens on Tuesday, where about 560 people of various nationalities are being temporarily housed.

About 850,000 people entered Greece last year, mostly paying smugglers for a berth in frail craft that make the short but dangerous crossing from nearby Turkey to the eastern Greek islands.

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4:30 p.m.

Swedish police say there has been a sharp drop in asylum-seekers since new ID checks were introduced for travelers entering the country by train from Denmark.

Police spokeswoman Ewa-Gun Westford said Tuesday that 48 asylum-seekers arrived in southern Sweden during the first day of the ID checks, down from 227 the day before.

She said most of the 48 arrived on ferries from Germany. Only two arrived by train from Denmark, which previously was the most common way for migrants to enter southern Sweden.

As of midnight Sunday, people crossing the Oresund bridge from Denmark to Sweden have to show a picture IDs to be able to get on board.

The move was meant to discourage migrants, many of whom don't carry passports or other forms of ID, to try to enter Sweden, which received a record 160,000 asylum-seekers in 2015.

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3:45 p.m.

Slovakia's prime minister says his country is ready to deploy 25 police officers requested by Macedonia to help the Balkan country cope with the influx of migrants.

Robert Fico said on Tuesday that the officers will be deployed Feb 1.

Macedonia, which is not a member of the European Union, is part of the so-called Balkans route that refugees have used on their way to rich Western countries.

Slovakia previously sent dozens of police officers to EU member states Hungary and Slovenia to help with the migrant crisis there.

Fico says "radical measures" are necessary to be taken to protect the external border of the EU's Schengen borderless zone.

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2:55 p.m.

Top officials from Denmark, Sweden and Germany will hold talks in Brussels on Wednesday amid concern about new border control measures aimed at stopping migrants entering northern Europe.

The meeting was called after Sweden introduced ID checks on all people traveling to Denmark, and Denmark tightened border controls on its border with Germany.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Tuesday that the meeting's aim "is to improve coordination between the countries concerned to ensure better management of migratory pressures."

Denmark on Monday introduced border checks for at least 10 days, citing concerns about public security because of migrant movements and border measures taken by other EU member states.

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2:10 p.m.

Danish officials say 18 people without proper ID have been refused entry from Germany in the first 12 hours of increased border crossing checks, a move to make sure that migrants headed for Sweden and turned down there don't get stuck in Denmark.

National Police spokesman Richard Oesterlund la Cour says three people have been arrested suspected of human smuggling. No details were available.

Oesterlund la Cour said in Tuesday's statement police had checked 1,100 people and focused on the three main crossings with Germany.

He said checks "obviously have been a nuisance" but didn't cause any significant traffic problems.

Hours after Sweden demanded that all arriving passengers show ID, Denmark said Monday said it was tightening border checks to stem the flow of migrants coming in from Germany.

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1:55 p.m.

The International Organization for Migration estimates that 3,771 migrants died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe last year.

The final number for 2015 released Tuesday is up from the 3,692 figure the agency released before Christmas. The IOM said last year was the deadliest on record for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, with the number of deaths rising from 3,279 in 2014.

At the same time, there was an enormous increase last year in people making the often-dangerous crossing. IOM's final tally for the number of people who arrived in Europe by sea last year was 1,004,356 — a nearly fivefold increase over the previous year's 219,000.

The IOM says 77 percent of the deaths were on the central Mediterranean route, involving people crossing largely from Libya.

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1:40 p.m.

Turkey's coast guard has raised the number of migrants who drowned in the first of two boat disasters off Turkey's Aegean coast to 14, bringing the overall death toll in both incidents to 21.

A coast guard statement said that seven other migrants were either rescued or found alive onshore in the resort of Ayvalik.

Earlier, the private Dogan news agency said seven other bodies, including women and children, were discovered on the coast of Dikili, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Ayvalik.

Namik Kemal Nazli, the local administrator for Ayvalik, told state-run Anadolu Agency that rescuers were still searching for more migrants and that the death toll could rise further.

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12:55 p.m.

A Turkish media report says the bodies of seven more migrants have washed up on a shore in Turkey — in a second migrant tragedy at sea in one day, bringing the death toll to at least 16.

The Dogan news agency says the seven bodies, including women and children, washed up on the coast of Dikili on Tuesday, hours after nine bodies were discovered further north, on a beach in the resort of Ayvalik.

Dogan said the migrants in both incidents died after their rubber boats overturned in rough waters.

Dikili and Ayvalik — about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away —are crossing points for migrants trying to make their way to Greece.

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10:15 a.m.

A Turkish news agency says the bodies of nine drowned migrants, including children, have washed up on a beach on Turkey's Aegean coast after their boat capsized in rough seas.

The Dogan news agency says the bodies were discovered early on Tuesday in the resort town of Ayvalik, from where migrants set off on boats to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.

Turkish coasts guards were dispatched to search for possible survivors. Eight migrants were rescued.

Dogan video footage showed a body, still wearing a life jacket, being pulled from the sea onto the sandy beach.

There was no immediate information on the migrants' nationalities.

Some 850,000 migrants and refugees crossed into Greece last year, paying smuggling gangs to ferry them over from Turkey in frail boats.