The Latest: EU sends Morocco funds to help halt migration
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on immigration into Europe (all times local):
Spain’s foreign minister says the European Union’s executive branch has allocated 55 million euros ($64.2 million) to manage an upsurge of migrant arrivals, mostly from Morocco.
Josep Borrell says that at least half of the funds will be used to “alleviate the current circumstances in Morocco,” where an increase of smuggling boat departures has put a strain on Spanish authorities across the Strait of Gibraltar.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU has given the North African kingdom more than 100 million euros ($117 million) to tackle migration over the past decade.
In a letter published Wednesday on Twitter, Juncker told Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez that the EU was “ready to increase its contribution,” but member countries need to feed a common fiduciary fund for Africa.
With nearly 23,000 migrants arriving so far this year, Spain has become the main entry point into Europe for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat.
Serbian police say two migrants have been found shot dead in a village northwest of Belgrade.
A statement says police officers on Wednesday discovered two lifeless bodies with gunshot wounds in the village of Dobrinci, some 40 kilometers from the capital city.
No other details were immediately known. Police say they are investigating the incident.
Several thousand migrants remain stuck in Serbia as they aim to reach the wealthy nations in Western Europe. From Serbia, migrants try to cross to neighboring European Union member nations Croatia and Hungary, or to war-ravaged Bosnia.
Many migrants turn to smugglers to take them over the borders.
Forty migrants have disembarked at the southern Tunisian port of Zarzis after they were stranded for more than two weeks at sea waiting for permission to dock from Tunisian authorities.
Ali Hajji, captain of the Sarost 5 boat, told The Associated Press Wednesday “this is a great relief for everyone.”
He said two pregnant women have been taken to the hospital, and the Tunisian Red Crescent will take care of other migrants at a shelter in the town of Medenine. The migrants reportedly were at sea in the Mediterranean for five days before a Maltese ship picked them up and transferred them to the Tunisian-flagged commercial boat on July 16.
Italy, Malta and France all refused to let the vessel into their ports.
Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said Saturday the migrants were allowed to enter Tunisia “for humanitarian reasons.”
Greece’s coast guard says a search and rescue operation is underway for a boat believed to be carrying about 50 migrants which issued a distress call off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Samos.
The coast guard said Wednesday one helicopter and six vessels, including coast guard patrol boats and ships from the European border agency Frontex, were searching for the boat north of the island of Samos. The search was mounted after authorities received a phone call by one of the boat’s passengers saying the vessel had run into unspecified trouble.
Hundreds of migrants and refugees continue to arrive on Greek islands each week from the nearby Turkish coast, while others cross the river that runs along the land border between the two countries.