The Latest: Serbia authorities find migrants hidden in train

AP News
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Posted: Mar 14, 2016 1:31 PM
The Latest: Serbia authorities find migrants hidden in train

VIENNA (AP) — The Latest on the crisis of mass migration to Europe (all times local):

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6:30 p.m.

Serbian customs officers at the border with Macedonia have found 33 migrants hidden in a cargo train in an attempt to cross into the country illegally.

The customs office said Monday that the group was discovered on Saturday in three wagons at the end of an empty train that had arrived from Macedonia.

The statement says the migrants included one woman. It says the migrants were aged 18 to 26 and had no documents but said they were from Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. They have been handed over to police.

Stranded migrants have been desperate to continue their journey, with many seeking help from people smugglers. Hundreds crossed into Macedonia from Greece on Monday, defying the blockade.

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5:35 p.m.

Macedonia's army and police are detaining hundreds of migrants and refugees who crossed the border from Greece.

More than 2,000 people crossed the frontier Monday, braving torrential rain and rough terrain, after being stranded in Greece by Balkan border closures.

In chaotic scenes, the refugees waded across a fast-flowing river before breaching a break in a border fence to reach Macedonia.

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4:10 p.m.

Hundreds of refugee and migrants stranded in Greece are crossing into neighboring Macedonia, defying border closures by Balkan countries.

Around 300 people are making their way across the border after walking for hours in heavy rain and wading across a river.

Macedonia's border has been sealed for the past 10 days, following transit restrictions imposed by EU-member Austria.

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1:15 p.m.

Some 300 migrants and refugees have left a camp at the Greek-Macedonian border and are heading on foot toward a break in a frontier fence dividing the two countries.

The migrants, including dozens of children, were heading east toward a river that crosses the border, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) outside the village of Idomeni, where some 14,000 people are stranded at a sprawling camp. They refused to turn back at a Greek police cordon outside the camp.

Conditions at Idomeni have deteriorated following days of torrential rainfall.

12 p.m.

Police in Macedonia say the bodies of two men and one woman, believed to be migrants, have been found in a river near the border with Greece.

Police spokesman Toni Angelovski told The Associated Press that the bodies were discovered early Monday in the Suva Reka river, near the border town of Gevgelija.

More than 40,000 people have been stranded in Greece after Macedonia and other ex-Yugoslav countries closed their borders to migrants and refugees. The closures have prompted many to try and seek more dangerous crossings.

UNHCR official Ljubinka Brasnarska said 19 migrants had been placed in a shelter in Macedonia and another three were hospitalized after crossing the Suva Reka.

She told the AP that border closures are forcing migrants to resort to "desperate actions."

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11:05 a.m.

The Dutch government says that one in four migrants seeking asylum in the Netherlands so far this year has come from a country considered "safe," meaning they are ineligible for refugee status.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service said Monday that a quarter of the 4,400 first-time asylum requests in 2016 came from countries such as Albania, Serbia and Kosovo.

Last year, nearly 59,000 migrants applied for asylum in the Netherlands, a small, densely populated country of 17 million.

As the Netherlands seeks ways to cope with the influx, migrants from safe countries are now being rejected faster and are no longer allowed to await decisions on appeals in this country and have to immediately leave.

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10 a.m.

Austria's chancellor says European countries have to send a message to those seeking safe haven that they cannot expect to choose which nation will accept them.

Werner Faymann also is calling for progress in talks between the EU and countries like Pakistan and Morocco to facilitate the return of migrants with no chance for asylum.

Faymann says "we have to make clear to refugees that they cannot pick where they will be accommodated in Europe."

In comments late Sunday to state broadcaster ORF, Faymann defended his country's decision to introduce annual caps on the number of people Austria would accept as refugees, saying "we will continue to back this stance."