The Latest: Czechs detain 8,500 illegal migrants in 2015

AP News
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Posted: Feb 04, 2016 6:19 AM
The Latest: Czechs detain 8,500 illegal migrants in 2015

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on migrants seeking sanctuary in Europe (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Czech police say they detained a total of 8,563 illegal migrants in the country in 2015, 3,741 more than the previous year.

Milan Majer, the chief officer of the police immigration unit, says most of them, almost 25 percent, were Syrian refugees.

The Czech Republic isn't part of the so-called Balkan route used on the way to Germany and other rich Western countries as migrants flee war and poverty.

In connection with the influx, Czech police say they arrested 118 migrant smugglers last year, 114 more than in 2014.

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10:50 a.m.

France's top security official said investigators have dismantled 25 migrant smuggling networks in the country's north in the past year.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said about 700 people were involved in the networks in the Calais region, temporary home to about 4,000 migrants camped in squalid conditions on the edge of the Channel in hopes of slipping across to a better life in England.

Speaking Thursday to Europe 1 radio, Cazeneuve also defended his ban on protests in Calais, which he said was imposed in response to a demonstration in support of migrants that ended with a group of people breaking into the port and boarding a ship. He said the unrest showed the risks were too great of confrontations involving both pro-migrant activists, and extremists on the right.

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8:30 a.m.

The German government says more than 91,000 asylum seekers arrived last month, underlining the pressure the country faces to diminish the influx of migrants.

The Interior Ministry said Thursday that 91,671 people were registered as asylum seekers in January. That's lower than the 127,320 who arrived in December; officials have said that winter weather was the driving force behind the decline.

In all, Germany saw nearly 1.1 million people arrive last year, and officials are keen to ensure that the figures are lower this year. Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that diplomacy is the key to a solution, and has resisted pressure for unilateral measures such as a cap on refugee numbers. However, the government has moved to toughen asylum policies.