Europe’s migrant crisis: Roundup, September 17

Migrants and refugees are pouring into Germany at a rate of 1800 a day through the border with Austria, German police said on September 16. The influx is causing some here to rethink a policy that is widely seen as an invitation for tens of thousands.

At the town of Freilassing on the Austrian border, German police ordered the cancellation of trains coming from nearby Salzburg in Austria on Wednesday. That prompted hundreds of migrants to cross on foot before being detained by police.

The scenes highlighted the difficulty that Germany is facing in controlling the flow of migrants, the Voice of America said.

* UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he is “shocked” after Hungarian police fired tear gas and water cannon to force migrants back from its border, the BBC reported.

Mr Ban said such treatment of asylum seekers was “unacceptable”.

Hundreds were involved in clashes at the Hungary-Serbia border on Wednesday, trying to breach a razor-wire fence.

* Hungary’s prime minister wants to build a new wall along parts of his country’s frontier with Croatia. Hungary has already erected a razor-wire fence along its Serbian border to block migrants trying to enter the EU, Deutsche Welle said on September 17.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said more barriers were needed because people smugglers prevented from crossing the now-blocked Serbian border would simply take a different path to bring migrants into the European Union.

“Since they can no longer pass through Hungary, they will change route and go through Romania, probably,” he said in an interview published on September 17 by Germany’s Die Welt and France’s Le Figaro.

* Dimitris Avramopoulos – the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship – told German periodical Die Welt that a “fortressed Europe” is not on the horizon.

“I want to state clearly that we do not want a fortressed Europe. But we want to improve the monitoring of our borders significantly,” Avramopoulous said, Deutsche Welle reported.

* Euronews reported that the use of water cannon and teargas by Hungary has been widely criticised by both Serbia’s prime minister who said it was “brutal” and “non-European” behaviour, while Montserrat Feixas Vihé of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said she was shocked:

“I’m extremely distressed because you know to see people who have been injured, to see children crying because they’re separated from their parents. People we know who have been separated from they’re families, who you know have been hurt. So it’s extremely distressing to us especially because we think that the degree of violence could have been avoided.”

* After the violence yesterday when a group of refugees from the Middle East tried to break through and clashed with Hungarian police, it was calm on the Serbian side of the border on Thursday morning, Serbian website B92 said.

There are now significantly fewer refugees at the crossing compared to the previous days.

Tanjug’s reporter at the scene said that from early morning refugees are being transported directly to Croatia, to the border crossing Bezdan. During the night, a large number was taken to a reception center in Kanjiza, northern Serbia, from where they “for the most part” departed for Croatia, the agency said.

* European Union lawmakers have backed an EU plan to distribute 120,000 refugees among member countries in a fast-track measure aimed at relieving migration pressure on Greece, Italy and Hungary, Greece’s ekathimerini said on September 17.

The move in the European Parliament on Thursday means that EU interior ministers meeting in Brussels next Tuesday will be able to approve the plan if they can overcome opposition from a group of Eastern European nations.

* Hundreds of mainly Syrian migrants spent the night out in the open near Turkey‘s Greek border after police halted their bid to reach the frontier and cross into the European Union, Turkey’s Today’s Zaman reported on September 17.

Piles of rubbish and makeshift tents had sprung up along the roadside on Wednesday morning close to the city of Edirne, around 17 kilometers (11 miles) by road from the border crossing. Police, some in riot gear, prevented the migrants continuing their journey.

Security forces had on Tuesday briefly thrown up barricades to halt the progress of hundreds attempting to reach EU-member Greece and buses from İstanbul to Edirne were halted.

* The Czech military has prepared a list of equipment it may use for the protection of the national border if need be, as indicated by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, ČSSD) on Tuesday, daily Lidové noviny (LN) writes today, the Prague Post reported.

* In connection with the arrival of temporary asylum seekers, Slovakia is also discussing the state of their health and medical care with Austria, Slovak Health Minister Viliam Čislák informed the TASR newswire on September 16, the Slovak Spectator said.
Slovakia has agreed to accept about 500 asylum seekers from Austria, and is expected to house them in a Slovak Technical University dorm in the municipality of Gabčíkovo.
After the government session, Čislák said that there had been a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, but that the negotiations have not been concluded yet.
* Polish politicians should stop scaremongering Poles with threats tied to immigration, those who oppose it should openly say so to the voters, Polish prime minister Ewa Kopacz said presenting a government report on the European migration crisis to the Sejm lower house.
Kopacz said that a debate on refugees requires gravity and substance, so let us forget for a while about pre-election campaign referring to Poland’s upcoming general election to be held on October 25 2015.She reminded MPs that she had earlier invited the party leaders to a meeting on the refugee crisis but they turned down her invitation, the Warsaw Voice said.



(In Macedonia, refugees take shelter beneath a metal pavilion on a rainy day, near the town of Gevgelija, on the border with Greece. Photo: UNICEF/Tomislav Georgiev)




The Sofia Globe staff

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