The Latest: France gives refugee status to 60 people

AP News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2017 2:59 PM

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the influx of migrants into Europe (all times local):

9 p.m.

France has given refugee status to 60 migrants who were among the thousands forced to leave the makeshift camp in Calais in late October.

A statement from the prefecture of the northern region that includes Calais said a ceremony was held on Tuesday according the coveted status of refugee to the 60.

The refugees were given asylum in less than three months — a process that normally takes more than a year. They now have the right to live legally in France.

It is a sharp contrast to the thousands of others waiting to learn their fate in special centers set up around France for the migrants expelled en masse from the filthy Calais camp known as the "jungle." More than 6,000 were estimated to have been in the camp at the time.

The nationalities of the 60 weren't specified, but Afghans and Sudanese were the most numerous migrants in the now-closed camp, which also harbored Syrians, Eritreans and others, most driven from their homelands because of war, daily violence or grinding poverty. Most migrants in and around Calais were hoping to cross the English Channel to Britain.

Migrant rights groups have long criticized France for dragging its heels in dealing with asylum demands.

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6:30 p.m.

France's Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate campaigning for president, has been refused entry when she tried to visit a migrant camp outside Dunkirk, in northern France.

Le Pen tweeted after her failed bid on Tuesday to enter the Grande-Synthe camp, "This is democracy a la Francaise!"

Her anti-immigration National Front party blames immigration in general and migrants in particular for a series of French woes. In a series of tweets from outside the camp, Le Pen, a leading candidate in France's spring elections, lambasted "the crazy immigration policy of our successive governments."

She tweeted, "We have to send illegals home and control our national borders if not the camps will be rebuilt."

A huge makeshift camp holding thousands of migrants in nearby Calais was shut down after a mass evacuation at the end of October. The official Grande-Synthe camp holds some 800 travelers. Most of those in northern France are trying to sneak across the English Channel to Britain, not stay in France.

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3:10 p.m.

The Dutch government says the number of migrants trying to sneak into trucks crossing from the Netherlands to Britain is on the rise.

Dutch and British authorities caught 430 migrants in the last three months, almost twice as many as the previous quarter. The total for 2016 was 1,280 - well over double the 500 people caught in 2015.

The Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice said Tuesday that Albanians make up 56 percent of all the migrants caught attempting to cross from the Netherlands to Britain.

Intensified Dutch surveillance and checks of vehicles leaving from ports like Hook of Holland appear to be bearing fruit. In 2015, 55 percent of the migrants trying to illegally cross to Britain were caught on the Dutch side. Last year, the Dutch caught 83 percent and British authorities the remainder.

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9:45 a.m.

Germany has deported 26 Afghan migrants as part of the government's efforts to increase the number of rejected asylum-seekers leaving the country after an influx of more than 1 million migrants in the last two years.

The German news agency dpa reported that the Afghans arrived Tuesday in Kabul where members of the German Embassy and Afghan authorities arranged accommodation before the deportees will be taken to their home provinces.

Most of the arrivals were young men. Some had lived in Germany for several years.

The German and Afghan governments signed a memorandum of understanding on deportations last year, paving the way for further deportations this year.

Dpa reported around 100 people had protested against the deportations Monday night at Frankfurt airport, saying Afghanistan wasn't a safe country.