The Latest: Police block migrants' march to Greek border
Nov. 15, 2017
BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
Police have blocked some 200 migrants and asylum-seekers from leaving a city in northern Greece for the Macedonian border in hopes of traveling on to other European Union countries.
Dozens of officers in riot gear used shields to push back the migrants near the center Thessaloniki and blocked the road with police buses late Wednesday.
The migrants — including families with young children — refused to leave and sat down in the street. No one was hurt in the brief confrontation.
The migrants, most of them from Syria, Iraq and Somalia, had gathered throughout the day in Thessaloniki. Many said they were responding to a campaign on social media for a protest march to the northern border.
More than 60,000 migrants and refugees who first arrived in Greece remain stranded in the country.
The European Union says it could ramp up legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland if they continue to refuse to accept currently in Greece and Italy.
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that "I hope that Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will take this opportunity to revise their position and start relocating" refugees.
He said "their infringement procedures remain ongoing," and that "the Commission has the power to take things one step further" if nothing happens.
More than two years after the refugee quota scheme was launched, the Czech Republic has welcomed just 12 people, while Hungary and Poland have accepted none. The Commission launched the first step of legal action against the three in June.
Dozens of asylum seekers are gathering in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki following a call through social media for a march to Greece's northern border with Macedonia to protest their inability to move to other European countries.
About 80 people, mostly from Iraq and Syria and including many families with children, gathered Wednesday in a central Thessaloniki square before the scheduled march to the border. Some had arrived overnight from refugee camps in Athens and elsewhere.
Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants are currently stuck in Greece, unable to progress to their desired destinations in Europe after countries shut down the land borders to migrant and refugee crossings early last year.
Police say one person has died in a fire at a home for asylum-seekers in southern Germany.
Officers were alerted at about 3 a.m. Wednesday to the blaze at the building, which currently houses 163 people. Police said that firefighters quickly brought under control the fire that had broken out in one apartment, sending smoke through the two-story building.
Fourteen people were slightly injured as a result of inhaling smoke. Police said a body was found in the apartment where the fire broke out, but they had no immediate details on the person's identity.
There was no immediate information on the cause of the fire.