The Latest: Greek police repel migrants on Macedonia border

AP News
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Posted: May 18, 2016 2:19 PM
The Latest: Greek police repel migrants on Macedonia border

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on migrants in Europe (all times local):

8:15 p.m.

Greek riot police have fired tear gas and stun grenades at refugees and other migrants who tried to push a railway carriage through a police cordon during a protest at a crowded informal camp on the border with Macedonia.

Police say about 200 people were involved in Wednesday's violence, and the migrants also attacked officers with stones. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.

The sprawling Idomeni camp is home to about 10,000 people trapped in Greece after a series of border closures further north on the Balkan migration route to Europe's prosperous heartland.

Camp residents have for weeks blocked a freight railway line that enters Macedonia at the spot. Officials said protesters pushed an empty carriage at police stationed on the line just before the Macedonian border fence.

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5:50 p.m.

Jordan's king says his country has reached "saturation point" for handling Syrian refugees, with debt increasing as Amman borrows to try to deal with the problem.

King Abdullah said Wednesday that one in five people in Jordan is a Syrian refugee and that "we have gotten to literally the saturation point. How many more people can we take?"

Speaking during a state visit to Belgium, he said that the arrivals from across the border are "having a dire impact on our people and economy."

Abdullah called for a global approach to the Syrian conflict and to defeating the Islamic State group, saying "we can't fight it by ourselves."

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5:05 p.m.

Greek authorities say four of the nearly 55,000 refugees and other migrants trapped there after a series of border closures further north have been returned to Turkey, from which they initially entered the country.

A police statement Wednesday said the four people returned Wednesday were a Syrian couple and their two children. That brings to just under 1,500 the number of people Greece has sent back to Turkey since the beginning of the year.

During the same period more than 150,000 reached Greece in smugglers' boats from its eastern neighbor, although the flow has almost come to a standstill since a March deportation agreement between the European Union and Turkey.

That deal has resulted in 400 people being returned.

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3:30 p.m.

A small tent city has formed on Serbia's border with Hungary where migrants are waiting to cross into the European Union despite border closures and a deal with Turkey to stop sea crossings into Greece.

Dozens of migrants, including small children, have been camping in a few dozen tents on a littered field by Hungary's border fence, braving rain and cold nights determined to pursue their dream of a better future in the EU.

Aid workers say Hungarian authorities have been letting into the country small groups of about 20 people a day, mostly families with small children. Many migrants have turned to smugglers to guide them over.

As aid vans arrived Wednesday carrying food, blankets, shoes and socks, migrants lined up for their share. They lit small fires for warmth.

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2:05 p.m.

European Union plans to share refugees in Greece and Italy with other EU partners are well behind schedule as the number of migrants arriving in Italy swells.

The EU's executive Commission said Wednesday that only 1,500 refugees had been relocated from the two countries by mid-May, far below the target of 20,000.

The EU's migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, appealed for action, saying that "we need to quickly respond to the urgent humanitarian situation in Greece and prevent any deterioration of the situation in Italy."

The Commission estimates that around 46,000 migrants are in mainland Greece.

EU countries agreed last September to share out 160,000 refugees over two years because Greece and Italy were overwhelmed by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people.

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11:50 a.m.

Police in Germany say they've arrested a 22-year-old Afghan man on allegations of sexually abusing five children in two cities in recent weeks.

Police spokeswoman Jana Kindt said Wednesday the man, identified only as Hamid F., admitted kissing and touching two girls in Chemnitz in eastern Germany earlier this month. He's also accused of sexually abusing two girls and a boy last month in the southwestern city of Kaiserslautern.

Hamid F. was arrested in Chemnitz on Monday after a European-wide arrest-warrant had been issued.

Prosecutors in both Chemnitz and Kaiserslautern say they don't yet have any details on Hamid F.'s legal status in Germany.

The case comes amid continuing concerns about the country's ability to deal with the 1.1 million migrants who arrived last year.

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11:25 a.m.

The U.N. refugee agency is launching an unprecedented appeal to the private sector to help pay for shelters for 2 million refugees worldwide amid a "huge shortfall in funds" for that purpose.

Spokesman Leo Dobbs says the appeal aims to tap philanthropists, companies, foundations and individuals as a potential source of new money because UNHCR hasn't gotten enough funds from its traditional government sources.

The "Nobody Left Outside" campaign aims to raise funds to build or improve shelter for 2 million refugees by 2018, or about one-eighth of the people UNHCR was helping in mid-2015. UNHCR says housing operations are expected to cost $724 million this year, but only $158 million is currently available.

UNHCR says 60 million people are forcibly displaced now, the highest figure since World War II.