The Latest: Hot bread: Greek bakers donate food to refugees
Oct. 14, 2015
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The latest news as migrants fleeing war or seeking a better life make their way across Europe by the tens of thousands. All times local.
Bakers in northern Greece have collected hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of bread and other food for asylum-seekers crossing the country's border on a trek into Western Europe.
Their donation drive produced 540 kilograms (1,190 pounds) of bread, cheese pies and other goods Wednesday in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The food was being taken to Greece's heavily used Idomeni border area in the afternoon for distribution.
Baker association head Elsa Koukoumeria said the food drive aimed to "help the people passing by the border every day as much as we can."
Greek police said 3,700 people had crossed the border heading north in the last 24 hours.
One hundred more refugees from Italy will be shared out among European Union nations next week as the bloc's quota scheme gathers pace.
The asylum-seekers could be lodged in Germany, Finland, France, Portugal or Spain as part of the EU's plan to ease pressure on front-line countries Greece and Italy. It would be the second time a relocation has taken place, after 19 Eritreans were sent from Italy to Sweden last Friday.
EU migration spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud also said Wednesday that 28 Tunisian and 35 Egyptian migrants who did not apply for asylum in Europe were sent back to their home countries on two flights last week.
Slovakia's government has approved a plan to dispatch 50 police officers in Hungary to help protect the external border of the European Union. Prime Minister Robert Fico says the officers will be deployed at the Hungarian border with Serbia at Hungary's request.
The Czech Republic is also sending 25 soldiers to Hungary's border with Croatia this week and has announced it was ready to deploy 50 police officers and up to 100 soldiers in Hungary.
Fico said Wednesday the Polish government is expected to announce its contribution to help Hungary later in the day.
The four EU countries are also known as the Visegrad Group.
German police and city officials say the federal government needs to quickly come up with long-term plans for dealing with the massive influx of asylum-seekers. They say more police officers, teachers and other support personnel are needed immediately.
Gerd Landsberg, head of the Federation of German Cities and Municipalities, says "we need a national, a European and also an international strategy" to slow the flow of newcomers. He told reporters Wednesday that Germans were losing confidence in the government's ability to deal with the influx.
German Police Union head Rainer Wendt says security forces are stretched to the limit dealing with border controls, attacks on refugee homes and crimes inside the refugee facilities. He says "we need quick relief now."
Romania's president has called for negotiations on the war in Syria, comments that come a day ahead of a European Union summit on the immigration crisis.
President Klaus Iohannis said Wednesday the fighting in Syria will be discussed at the Thursday summit in Brussels. Many of those fleeing to Europe this year are Syrians.
He says "the fact that Russia is militarily involved in Syria doesn't help solve the crisis, but complicates it." He adds that "all parties involved must be brought to the negotiating table."
He said Romania was one of the few countries that still had staff at its embassy in Damascus.
Moscow began airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30, saying it was targeting Islamic State and other militant groups. But Russia, a long ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has also struck positions of rebel groups supported by the West and others.
Authorities in Austria plan to build four large tents that can shelter thousands of refugees at the main border crossing into Austria from Hungary to deal with the daily influx.
Police spokesman Gerhard Koller said Wednesday the air tents are needed due to increased cold and the unabated arrivals. He says the tents will have heat and power, will be able to shelter 4,000 people and will be ready in the next two weeks at the Nickelsdorf crossing.
He says nearly 5,000 people fleeing their homelands arrived Wednesday alone before noon, with 21,000 coming last weekend.
Germany's governing coalition is arguing over whether to set up "transit zones" on the country's border to quickly weed out migrants who have no realistic chance of winning asylum.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc is pushing the idea. It would entail extending to Germany's land borders a system that already exists at its airports, where migrants who arrive from countries considered safe or without papers can be held while asylum applications are processed quickly.
Merkel says the idea could help. But it remains unclear how the zones would work and her center-left coalition partners are deeply skeptical.
Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Wednesday that his Social Democrats wouldn't back a system that entails people being interned at the border.
Croatia's conservative president says her country might need to build a fence on its border to stop the migrant influx just as neighboring Hungary has done.
President Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic tells the Jutarnji List daily on Wednesday that "I think some kind of a fence or physical barrier will be needed in the future."
She adds "I would like to avoid that, but I don't see how else we can protect ourselves," particularly if neighboring countries close their borders with Croatia.
Hungary has sealed its border with Serbia and threatened to do the same with Croatia because of the tens of thousands of migrants crossing through to go to Western Europe. Croatia's liberal government has ruled out building a fence.
More than 170,000 asylum-seekers have passed through Croatia since mid-September.
European Union nations are failing to live up to their pledges to provide more funds and experts to help cope with Europe's refugee emergency.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said Wednesday "noble words need to be followed by concrete actions" and that commitments are "far below what is required."
The EU's border agency and asylum office have appealed for around 1,000 more officers, while the executive Commission has requested hundreds of millions of euros in funding.
In the three weeks since the leaders' last emergency summit on immigration, around 12 of the 28 EU nations have offered 130 personnel. Just three states have pledged a total of 12 million euros ($13.7 million) to a migration fund that is aiming to reach 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion).
Timmerman timed his appeal on the eve of another EU summit in Brussels.
Former Polish prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski says migrants who have arrived recently in Europe are carrying diseases that could hurt the local populations.
The words sparked a sharp rebuke on Wednesday from a left-wing politician, Janusz Palikot, who slammed Kaczynski's words as racist language that Adolf Hitler "would not be ashamed of."
Kaczynski, whose opposition Law and Justice party is expected to win parliamentary elections on Oct. 25, told voters Tuesday in Makow Mazowiecki that: "There are already signs of the emergence of very dangerous diseases which haven't been seen in Europe for a long time: cholera on Greek islands; dysentery in Vienna; various types of parasites, protozoa, which aren't dangerous in the organisms of these people, but which could be dangerous here."