The Latest: Swedish police increase checks at asylum sites
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local.
Swedish police are increasing checks of asylum facilities in the southwestern city of Malmo after reports that refugees have left to avoid being registered by immigration officials.
The move comes after Sweden announced Thursday that it would introduce border checks requiring migrants to register with authorities and make it harder to use Sweden as a transit country to get to Norway and Finland.
Swedish news agency TT reported that dozens of people climbed a high fence at an asylum center in Malmo on Saturday, bringing the number of refugees to some 150 who have avoided registration.
Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said Sunday that the situation was out of order and “wasn’t meant to work like that.”
More than 120,000 people have applied for asylum in Sweden this year, the highest number relative to population size in Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressed her country’s case for a fair distribution of the refugees coming to Europe.
Merkel said Sunday on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, that findings ways to combat the causes of displacement would be one of the main topics of the summit.
She said she had already discussed the matter with King Salman of Saudi Arabia and planned to talk separately with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama about the issue.
Merkel said that securing Europe’s borders and ensuring those deserving of protection receive it should be a priority.
She added that “of course we also face the expectation that there will be a fair distribution of refugees in Europe.”
Michigan’s Republican governor, who has bucked many party leaders for welcoming Syrian refugees, is putting efforts on hold following the deadly attacks in Paris.
Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures.
Snyder says Michigan is “proud of our rich history of immigration” but that Michigan’s “priority is protecting the safety of our residents.”
Several GOP candidates have criticized the Obama administration’s plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and urge much greater scrutiny.
Officials say Friday’s gun and bomb attacks killed 129 people. One of the attackers had a Syrian passport, but it wasn’t clear whether the passport was fake or real.
Germany’s defense minister is pushing back against the idea that terrorists are entering Europe as refugees.
European officials have expressed concern after a passport discovered close to the body of one of the Paris attackers was found to have been used last month passing through Greece and the Balkans.
Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday that linking Europe’s migrant crisis to the threat of terrorism would be wrong.
She says that “terrorism is so well organized that it doesn’t have to risk the arduous refugee routes, and the sometimes life-threatening crossings at sea.”
Balkan authorities are tracking the travels of the owner of a Syrian passport that was found next to a suicide bomber’s body at France’s national stadium on Friday night.
Officials in Greece say the passport’s owner entered the country Oct. 3 through Leros, one of the eastern Aegean islands that tens of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty have been using as a gateway into the 28-nation European Union.
Serbian police say he registered at its border entry with Macedonia on Oct. 7.
Croatian police say he was checked at a refugee center on Oct. 8. Police spokeswoman Helena Biocic said Sunday the man was not flagged as suspicious and continued his journey toward Hungary and Austria.
It is still not yet clear whether the Syrian passport is fake or real, or whether it belonged to the dead bomber. European officials say there is a brisk trade in fake Syrian passports to help people get refugee status in the EU.
Germany’s president is striking a defiant tone against terrorism during an annual event honoring those killed by war and violent oppression in the country.
President Joachim Gauck began his speech Sunday by remembering those killed in the Paris attacks and pledging solidarity with the people of France.
Gauck describes Friday’s attacks as “a new kind of war” and says the perpetrators had struck open societies worldwide.
He said those responsible, and those who support them, should know that “we’ll bow our heads to the dead, but we’ll never bow to terror.”
Macedonia’s Security Council has ordered the army to start preparations to possibly erect a fence on the border with neighboring Greece to restrict the flow of migrants.
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov presided at a Security Council meeting late Saturday following the attacks in Paris. Officials are concerned that if other countries where asylum-seekers are headed restrict their flow, Macedonia will end up with a longer stays for a higher number of migrants.
Ivanov has said that more than 8,500 migrants have entered the country unregistered through illegal border crossings from Greece.
A statement issued after the meeting says the Security Council “emphasizes that a fence would not be aimed at closing the border, but channeling and limiting the flow of the migrants.”
The statement also says “this step would be taken as a last resort.”
A top European Union official says the bloc’s refugee policy does not need to be overhauled in the wake of the Paris attacks and is urging world leaders not to start treating asylum-seekers as terrorists.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Sunday that “those who organized these attacks, and those who carried them out, are exactly those who the refugees are fleeing.”
Juncker told reporters at the G-20 summit in Turkey that “there is no need to revise the European Union’s entire refugee policy.”
Poland’s incoming government leaders declared Saturday that they would not accept refugees without security guarantees.
Juncker urged them “to be serious about this, and not to give in (to) these basic reactions I don’t like.”
European Union President Donald Tusk says signs have emerged that attacks on moderate opposition forces in Syria are creating a new flood of refugees.
Tusk told reporters at the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday that such attacks will “only result (in) a new wave of refugees. And we have some signals that in fact it’s started.”
The U.S and its allies say Russian warplanes in Syria have mostly targeted moderate opponents of President Bashar Assad instead of their declared main target, the Islamic State group.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed the allegations.
Tusk did not mention Russia by name but said that the Islamic State is “the real enemy of the free world, not the moderate Syrian opposition.”