A look at the latest developments in Europe’s migrant crisis
Record numbers of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea are trying to reach Europe this year, despite the risks of perilous sea crossings and little humanitarian assistance. Here are the latest developments Wednesday:
ITALY FINDS 51 MIGRANT BODIES IN BOAT
Italy’s coast guard says 51 bodies have been found in the hull of a migrant boat that was rescued off Libya’s northern coast. Coast guard Lt. Claudio Bernetti said the Swedish ship Poseidon, part of the European Union’s Mediterranean operation, also rescued 439 surviving migrants from the ship. The rescue was one of 10 requests for assistance as Libya-based smugglers take advantage of calm seas to send boats overloaded with migrants to Europe.
HUNGARY’S BORDER FENCE STOPS FEW MIGRANTS
Clambering over the razor-wire border fence or crawling under it, migrants surged across the Serbian border into Hungary, trying to evade border police and head to more prosperous European Union nations. By early Wednesday morning, 1,302 migrants had already been detained at Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, according to Hungary’s national police chief. Police said 2,533 migrants were detained Tuesday, up from 2,093 on Monday, with the numbers setting records nearly every day.
In the border town of Roszke, police used tear gas to break up a brief scuffle involving about 200 migrants who were growing impatient with registration delays.
The Hungarian border fence consists of three layers of razor wire along its 174-kilometer (109-mile) border with Serbia. But it did not stop one group of migrants, including women and children, from crawling under it, using blankets, sleeping bags, jackets and a stick to raise the wire.
GERMAN FAR-RIGHT PROTESTERS BOO MERKEL
Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to stand up against hatred and vowed zero tolerance for attacks against refugees, even as over 100 far-right protesters booed her visit to a shelter for asylum-seekers.
Merkel traveled to Heidenau, a small town near Germany’s eastern border with the Czech Republic, to express support for refugees following neo-Nazi riots there over the weekend. Dozens of police were injured when a far-right mob hurled bottles and fireworks at police, trying to prevent asylum seekers from moving into a former hardware store south of Dresden.
“It’s shameful and repulsive what we experienced here,” Merkel said of the weekend clash.
A couple of hundred meters (yards) away, far-right protesters jeered and leaned on car horns. Some held placards denouncing the German government, while others shouted “Traitors!” and “Lying press!”
GREECE RESCUES HUNDREDS AT SEA
Greece’s coast guard says it rescued 578 migrants at sea off its eastern Aegean islands in 15 separate operations near the islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos in the last 24 hours. The figure doesn’t include those who arrive at the islands themselves from the nearby Turkish coast, usually in inflatable dinghies. Greece has borne the brunt of a record number of migrants heading to Europe, with more than 160,000 entering the country so far this year.
UN REFUGEE CHIEF SLAMS EU’S ASYLUM SYSTEM
The head of the U.N. refugee agency has said the Europe Union’s asylum system is “completely dysfunctional,” urging the bloc to better coordinate its response to the influx of refugees.
Antonio Guterres said the response could include EU deployment of triage centers to register migrants pouring into countries like Italy and Greece. Such “hotspots” could help officials distinguish refugees from others who “don’t need protection,” he said.