Europe’s migrant crisis: Roundup, September 22

European Union justice and interior ministers were meeting on the afternoon of September 22 to continue discussions on the migration crisis, with a focus on the European Commission’s proposal for the emergency relocation of 120 000 people in need of international protection from member states exposed to massive migratory flows to other EU member states.

This number would be added to the relocation of 40 000 people from Italy and Greece in need of international protection, already adopted on September 14 2015, a notice ahead of the meeting said.

A special meeting of the European Council is to be held on September 23 on the migration crisis.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, newly sworn in after his re-election, said unless responsibility was shared “there is no point in talking about a united Europe”, the BBC reported.

Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday morning Serbia will react to Croatia’s shutting down of the border for Serbian trucks “unless the EU reacts by 2pm CET, Serbian website B92 reported.

“We are waiting for the EU to react by 14:00 hours, and then Serbia will react calmly, without violating regulations, but will show that Croatia cannot be taking it out on Serbia and humiliating it, and destroying Serbia’s economy without consequences,” Vucic said.

Serbia has activated the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism to benefit from material support to help cope with the influx of refugees and asylum seekers in the country, the European Commission said on September 22.

The European Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is working closely with the Serbian authorities and the other participating states in the mechanism to co-ordinate a swift response to the request, the statement said.

Serbia has requested material support for beds, mattresses, hygiene items, vehicles, fuel and food. “I call on EU member states to show solidarity towards Serbia at this time of need. We are in close contact with the authorities in Belgrade to help coordinate the swift delivery of material support offered by participating states,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.

Hungary’s parliament has passed a new law saying the country’s army could now shoot at refugees with rubber bullets and tear gas grenades, so-called non-lethal weapons for self-defence, euronews reported.

“This law meets all constitutional requirements,” said Hungary’s defence minister István Simicskó. “The government decree limits the new military task to the migrant crisis. The soldiers can fulfill their duty with weapons but they may only use arms in self-defense and to defend other soldiers, in any other situation they must use other measures and tools.”

Thousands of refugees who are stranded in Turkey’s western province of Edirne, which borders both Greece and Bulgaria, are struggling to cope with difficult circumstances and sweltering heat during daylight and cold nights in makeshift camps set up near highways or in the city’s historic Sarayiçi square, Today’s Zaman reported.

For Syrian refugees deterred by often risky and dangerous sea journeys to Greek islands, the land route via Edirne to the EU has emerged as a viable alternative, being cheaper and less risky. Organized via Facebook groups and Syrian volunteers who try to help refugees who might otherwise resort to human smugglers, thousands of refugees traveled to Edirne last week, only to have their plans foiled by police in Edirne, who have prevented them from attempting to reach Greece or Bulgaria.

In its new migration report released on September 22, the OECD said that an estimated 350 000 to 450 000 people could be granted refugee or similar status in Europe in 2015, more than in any refugee crisis in Europe since World War 2, Deutsche Welle reported.

The OECD said 700 000 asylum seekers had been registered so far this year, and that this figure twas going to climb to one million by the end of the year. This compares with the 630 000 asylum registrations in 2014.

Germany was receiving the most asylum seekers of any European country in absolute numbers, with Austria, Sweden and Switzerland having the highest rate in per-capita terms, according to the report.





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.