The Latest: UNHCR says up to 240 dead in wrecks off Libya

AP News
Posted: Nov 03, 2016 8:34 AM
The Latest: UNHCR says up to 240 dead in wrecks off Libya

CALAIS, France (AP) — The Latest on the influx of migrants and asylum-seekers into Europe (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says survivor accounts indicate as many as 240 people have died in two shipwrecks off Libya. No bodies have been recovered.

UNHCR spokeswoman in Italy Carlotta Sami says 31 survivors of two shipwrecks who arrived on Thursday on the Italian island of Lampedusa reported that their boats capsized in heavy seas.

Sami said 29 people survived the first wreck, reporting that about 120 people had gone missing. And in a separate operation, two women found swimming at sea told rescuers another 120 people had died in that wreck.

In both cases, most of the people on board appeared to have been sub-Saharan Africans, but Sami said aid workers were still ascertaining details.

Sami said the latest reported deaths bring to over 4,220 the number of people dead or missing in the Mediterranean this year, the highest toll on record.


12 p.m.

Turkey's foreign minister is renewing a threat to scrap an agreement with the European Union to stem the migrant flow if Brussels doesn't grant Turks visa-free entry, saying that Ankara won't wait until the end of the year.

The visa waiver is part of a package of incentives the EU offered Turkey to stop migrants heading to Europe. The main sticking point is an EU demand for Turkey to change the way it defines terrorism.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted Thursday as telling Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung: "Our patience is approaching an end." He added that Ankara is upholding agreements and expects the EU to do the same.

Asked when the migrant deal might be suspended, Cavusoglu replied: "We won't wait until the end of the year."


11:15 a.m.

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International alleges that Italian police have beaten and abused migrants and unlawfully expelled some, under pressure to implement new European Union rules to process arrivals.

In a report published Thursday, the organization cites 24 claims of abuse including beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation, to force the migrants to get fingerprinted in Italy.

Under new EU rules, migrants must get fingerprinted in the first EU country they arrive in, so that they can be processed and, if granted asylum, relocated to another EU state. Many migrants, however, want to travel to a specific country, often to reach relatives, and resist fingerprinting.

The report alleges mistreatment has grown since the new EU rules were adopted last year.

The Italian interior ministry declined repeated requests for comment.


9:50 a.m.

The last residents of Calais' sprawling migrant camp are being evacuated — up to 400 women and children being transferred to family centers around France so the government can shut the camp for good.

The migrants had been housed in a municipal building near the English Channel shore that became the anchor of the camp, also known as the "jungle."

The families are being bused Thursday to processing centers where they can seek asylum in France or Britain, regional administration spokesman Steve Barbet said.

Over the past 10 days, authorities have moved nearly 7,000 people out of the camp to sites around France.

Migrants fleeing fighting and poverty in the Mideast and Africa converged on Calais to try to sneak to Britain by hiding out in freight trucks.