Europe’s migrant crisis: Roundup, September 14

As European Union interior ministers were to meet on September 14 to discuss sharing out the task of dealing with the huge influx of refugees, there were a number of further developments in the migrant crisis.

Rail services have resumed between Austria and Germany after all trains were stopped overnight. Berlin has reintroduced border controls to stem the tide of thousands of refugees streaming across its frontier, Deutsche Welle reported.

There was heavy traffic banked up on major highways connecting Austria and Germany on Monday after temporary border checks were imposed at the border.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bahn said most train services between the two countries resumed at 7 a.m. local time (0500 UTC) after a 12-hour stoppage. There were some initial delays on the Salzburg-Munich route, where there were reports of people blocking the tracks.

* The Greek coast guard has not been able to find any more survivors from the capsizing of a boat carrying refugees off the island of Farmakonisi on Sunday, ekathimerini said.

The death toll from the accident stands at 34, including four babies and 10 children.

* The Czech police are reinforcing their staff on the border with Austria due to the refugee wave, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said on Czech Television (ČT) on September 13, adding that next steps will be decided on depending on the number of migrants heading for the Czech Republic, the Prague Post reported.

* The railway company in Macedonia has increased ticket prices for refugees, the Independent Balkan News Agency said.

The price of a ticket for refugees traveling from Gevgelija to the railway station of Tabanovc on the border with Serbia will go up from 10 euro to 25 euro.

The price increase comes at a time when railway workers had started a strike last week due to low salaries, delays in their payments and bad working conditions.

* The UN High Commission for Refugees has expressed concern at the “legal limbo” faced by refugees in Europe.

In a statement ahead of the EU interior ministers’ meeting, the UNHCR said that the recent successive announcements of different border control measures by a number of European countries impacted by the refugee and migration crisis only underlines the urgency of establishing a comprehensive European response.

“This response must be based on the creation of effective reception centres, with the support of all parties concerned including UNHCR, to properly assist, register and screen people upon arrival in Greece, Italy and Hungary. This must be accompanied by the rapid implementation of a relocation programme as proposed by the European Commission. People in need of international protection in accordance with international law should be relocated among all European Union countries based on a fair distribution mechanism.”

UNHCR said that it was concerned that the combination of different, individual measures “might create a situation where large numbers of refugees seeking in Europe the protection they are entitled to receive in line with international law, will find themselves moving around in legal limbo”.

* The European Commission said on September 13 that Germany’s temporary reimposition of border controls appears to be in line with EU rules.

The EC said that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had spoken on the phone on September 13 with German chancellor Angela Merkel where she informed him about the temporary reintroduction of controls at the borders with other EU member states, particularly at the German-Austrian border.

“The temporary reintroduction of border controls between member states is an exceptional possibility explicitly foreseen in and regulated by the Schengen Borders Code, in case of a crisis situation,” the EC said.

“The current situation in Germany, prima facie, appears to be a situation covered by the rules.”

The EC said that EU institutions have the task to ensure the proportionality of the exceptional measures concerned.

“The Commission will closely monitor the situation and keep the European Parliament and the Council fully informed, as foreseen in the Schengen Borders Code. The objectives of our efforts must be to help ensure that we can go back to the normal Schengen system of open borders between Schengen member states as soon as feasible.”

The German decision underlined the urgency to agree on the measures proposed by the European Commission in order to manage the refugee crisis, the EC said.

(Photo via IBNA)




The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.