- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

The latest Thursday on the European migrant crisis (all times GMT):


1715 GMT

A moment of silence will be observed before Italy’s European Championship qualifier against Malta for the European migrant crisis.

Italian soccer federation president Carlo Tavecchio says he asked and received permission from UEFA President Michel Platini for the observation at the match Thursday night in Florence.

The two Mediterranean countries have been hard hit by the migrant crisis.


1710 GMT

A Canadian legislator says personally lobbied Canada’s immigration minister to get refugee status for the Syrian family whose mother and two young sons drowned off Turkey.

The photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, who washed up Wednesday on a beach, has galvanized a worldwide debate about migration.

Opposition legislator Fin Donnelly said Thursday it’s not normal for him to intervene personally with the minister but said the family’s case was so compelling.

Donnelly tells The Associated Press “I think this is going to be a symbol for what’s needed. Unfortunately for this family it’s too late.”


1655 GMT

Conditions have grown increasingly squalid around Budapest’s Keleti train station, where an estimated 3,000 migrants have camped for days as Hungarian authorities flip-flop over whether to let them get on trains heading to Austria and Germany.

Volunteers have been distributing water, food, medicine and disinfectants. But an AP reporter saw one infant boy beside his sleeping parents crawl onto the pavement Thursday to eat breadcrumbs from the floor.

Nearby, an unattended toddler walked to a pile of garbage, picking at discarded wrappers in search of candy.


1640 GMT

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann’s office says he will summon Hungary’s ambassador to Vienna on Friday amid bilateral tensions over the way Hungary is dealing with the inflow of migrants to Austria.

Faymann’s office says “the Geneva Human Rights Convention has to be respected by all states of the EU.” That indicates Faymann will complain about the treatment of migrants in Hungary, most of whom are desperately trying to move from Hungary to neighboring Austria and onto Germany.


1615 GMT

The uncle of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose lifeless body has put a devastating human face on the Syrian refugee crisis has assailed Canada’s refugee process.

Rocco Logozzo told The Canadian Press that the system is designed to fail. He says his family had plenty of money and room to house Aylan Kurdi, 3, and his brother and parents at his home in Coquitlam, British Columbia.

Instead, the family says Canada rejected their refugee application in June. Logozzo says the family lost hope and made the “bad” choice to get on a boat to Europe, where the two boys and their mother drowned this week off the Turkish coast.

Logozzo says the boys’ father, Abdullah, told his sister that he put lifejackets on both boys but they somehow slipped off when the boat flipped over.


1550 GMT

A Syrian father is distraught after the deaths of his wife and two young sons in the seas off Turkey.

The picture of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach has been seen around the world, highlighting the plight of desperate migrants risking their lives to try to reach Europe.

Abdullah Kurdi, his father, said the family was on an overcrowded boat heading from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos when the boat’s captain panicked due to high waves and jumped into the sea. He said the waves were so high the small boat flipped and his wife Rehan and two sons - Aylan 3, and Galip, 5 -drowned.

He says “my kids were the most beautiful children in the world, wonderful. They wake me up every morning to play with them. They are all gone now.”


1520 GMT

All international trains from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland are no longer traveling to Budapest due to the large number of migrants at the Hungarian capital’s main Keleti train station.

Trains will instead end at the Hungarian border town of Szob, according to statements Thursday by the Czech and Polish railways. Polish railways says any traveler inconvenienced by the change can return their tickets.

An estimated 3,000 migrants have camped out for days around Keleti in downtown Budapest. Conditions have grown increasingly squalid despite the efforts of volunteers distributing water, food, medicine and disinfectants. A migrant uproar ensued early Thursday at Keleti when Hungarian authorities halted trains going to the west.


1510 GMT

At the Hungarian town of Bicske, migrants were shocked to find out that their train was not heading to Austria but to a Hungarian migrant camp. Scores of police in riot gear were there to greet them.

The migrants started chanting “No camp!” in Arabic. Some tried to flee on foot. One family sat down beside the tracks and appealed to journalists for help.

When police told the media to move away, the husband in apparent desperation threw his wife and infant onto the tracks. Laying beside them, he started shouting, “We won’t move from here!”

Police in helmets and body armor surrounded the prone family and detained the man. The woman and infant were escorted off the tracks.

Other migrants scuffled with police and forced their way back onto the train, where an hours-long standoff in the sweltering sun began.


1440 GMT

Greece does not see an end to the flood of refugees and migrants anytime soon.

Alternate Interior Minister Antonis Makrydimitris said Thursday that in July 2014, Greece saw 2,103 migrants arrive, compared to 45,000 in July this year.

He says this flow of migrants is expected to continue in September and October “until conditions change.”

He said the vast majority of migrants were reaching five eastern Greek islands: with Lesbos seeing 50 percent of arrivals, followed by Kos with 28 percent. The other hard-hit islands were Chios, Samos and Leros.


1430 GMT

French President Francois Hollande says he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are proposing a series of measures to deal with Europe’s migrant crisis.

Hollande says it would include a “permanent and obligatory mechanism” by which refugees, “notably Syrian,” would be distributed among the EU’s 28 nations.

The proposals are to be submitted to a meeting of European interior ministers on Sept. 14. This was the first time that Hollande spoke of creating an “obligatory mechanism” to handle the migrant crisis.


1415 GMT

News that that Canada rejected the application of a Syrian family whose mother and two young sons drowned trying to get to Europe has had an immediate impact on Canada’s election campaign.

Opposition Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has ignored the pleas to accept more refugees and said news that Canada’s immigration minister is looking into the Syrian case comes too little too late.

Trudeau says “you don’t get to suddenly discover compassion in the middle of an election campaign. You either have it or you don’t.”

Trudeau called on Canada to immediately accept 25,000 Syrian refugees.

The Canadian election is Oct. 19.


1405 GMT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Western nations of indifference to the plight of refugees, saying they shared the blame for the deaths of migrants off the coast of Turkey.

Erdogan spoke Thursday, a day after 12 migrants drowned while trying to reach a Greek island from Turkey. He said: “It’s not just refugees who drown in the Mediterranean, it’s humanity, humanity!”

He said Turkey was hosting close to 2 million refugees, in contrast to about 200,000 in total being hosted by “many times more” prosperous Western countries.


1350 GMT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has renewed her call for binding quotas to spread out tens of thousands of migrants among the European Union’s 28 countries.

During a visit to Switzerland, Merkel said she discussed the issue with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday morning. She said they agree that “for those who need protection … we need binding quotas within the European Union to share the task.”

She stressed that a country’s size and economic strength will be taken into account “but otherwise we will not cope with this question.”

Germany has taken in more migrants than any other European Union country. It expects 800,000 new arrivals this year.


1340 GMT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the refugee influx “is a problem that concerns us all in Europe” and says her country is doing what is morally necessary.

Merkel was asked Thursday during a visit to Switzerland whether she shared the Hungarian prime minister’s opinion that the influx is Germany’s problem.

Merkel said: “Germany is doing what is morally and legally necessary, no more and no less.” She said Hungary is right to say that the EU’s borders have to be better protected and migrants registered “that’s not the end of it.”

She added: “There’s also an obligation to give protection to those who deserve protection. And the Geneva Convention on refugees applies not just in Germany, but in every European member.”


1325 GMT

Greece’s caretaker government says its coast guard has been rescuing hundreds of migrants from the sea every day - sometimes over 1,000 in one day - despite a severe scarcity of resources.

Alternate Economy Minister Christos Zois said Thursday that 36 percent of the Greek coast guard’s 240 vessels were not operational, as were four of its seven aircraft. Only one of its six helicopters is able to fly.

Greece has been in the grip of a deep financial crisis for the past five years that has wiped out a quarter of its economy. Successive governments have imposed spending cuts across the board, leaving many state services struggling.


1315 GMT:

Financially strapped Greece says it needs more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to deal with the current migrant crisis.

The estimate was given Thursday by the country’s caretaker economy minister, Nikos Christodoulakis. Greece says it has seen over 230,000 migrants enter the country this year, most coming by sea to its eastern islands.

He said for now Greece is completing procedures to get money from nine different European funds.


1300 GMT

Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander says the tragic photo of young Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned off the coast of Turkey along with his mother and brother “broke hearts around the world.” 

The boy’s aunt in Vancouver had applied to sponsor the family, but the application was rejected by Canadian authorities.

Alexander says “Like all Canadians, I was deeply saddened by that image and of the many other images of the plight of the Syrian and Iraqi migrants fleeing persecution at the hands of ISIS.”  

He said Canada has one of the most generous per capita immigration and refugee resettlement programs in the world, and was planning to accept 23,000 Iraqis refugees and 11,300 Syrians. 


1245 GMT

Canada’s immigration minister is suspending his re-election campaign to travel to Ottawa and look into why the Canada government rejected a request to take in the Syrian family whose mother and two young sons drowned this week trying to get to Europe.

A senior government official said Chris Alexander’s priority “is to ascertain the facts of the case.”

The photo of a 3-year-old boy who washed up on a beach in Turkey has galvanized a worldwide debate about migration.

A Canadian legislator says he had submitted a request on behalf on the boys’ aunt, who had wanted to bring the family to Canada, but was turned down by Canadian immigration officials.


1235 GMT

A senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is rejecting the Hungarian prime minister’s assertion that the migrant influx is a German problem.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said the problem is Germany’s because so many migrants want to go there. But in Berlin, Volker Kauder, the parliamentary caucus leader of Merkel’s conservative bloc, noted that European Union rules say migrants are supposed to be registered in the first EU country where they arrive - and then stay there.

Kauder says “where people want to go is one thing, but they are registered and they are supposed to stay where they arrive in a safe country in Europe.”


1200 GMT

Scuffles have broken out at the train station in the Hungarian town of Bicske between migrants and police in riot gear.

Several hundred migrants excitedly packed into Thursday’s first train leaving the Budapest train station, hoping to reach Austria. But when the train stopped on a police-packed platform at Bicske, which hosts a major refugee camp, disappointed migrants started chanting “No camp!” and refused to leave the train as police ordered.

Several hundred migrants have remained on or beside the idling train at Bicske for hours. Police have distributed water, but many migrants have refused it or thrown it back, fearing it could contain sedatives.

In Budapest, thousands of migrants remain camped out at Keleti, the main train station. Few agreed to board another train to northwest Hungary, fearing they too will run into another wall of police.


1135 GMT

The president of the 28-nation European Union is calling for countries to share the burden of taking in at least 100,000 asylum-seekers arriving in the nations hardest hit by the migrant influx: Greece, Italy and Hungary.

European Council President Donald Tusk said Thursday that the “fair distribution of at least 100,000 migrants among the EU states is what in fact we need.”

He warned if EU “leaders do not demonstrate goodwill, solidarity will become an empty slogan and will be replaced by political blackmail, divisions and a new blame game.”

EU leaders promised in June to share 40,000 migrants arriving in Greece and Italy, but the controversial plan is at a standstill amid bickering over how people should be distributed.


1125 GMT

A Greek minister says over 230,000 migrants have arrived in Greece in the first eight months of this year, compared to roughly 17,500 in the same eight months last year.

Christos Zois, the caretaker minister for the merchant marine, said 80 percent of those arriving were refugees. The migrant arrivals in just July and August alone surpassed 157,000, he said.

The country’s caretaker government is announcing immediate measures in order to tackle the refugee crisis that has overwhelmed its eastern Aegean islands and northern border with Macedonia.

Zois said authorities have received information that there could be millions more refugees waiting to cross toward Europe through Greece.


1110 GMT

French President Francois Hollande is calling an emergency meeting of top government officials to address Europe’s migrant crisis.

Among others, the meeting Thursday afternoon will include Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who earlier in the day had called for urgent solutions for Europe’s migrant crisis.

French public opinion appeared divided over the summer on whether to take in more migrants, but the government is under increasing pressure to help resolve the Europe-wide issue.

Germany expects to take in over 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, the most in Europe, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged other EU nations to take in more migrants.


1055 GMT

Turkey’s state-run news agency says police have detained four suspected human smugglers a day after 12 migrants drowned while trying to reach a Greek island.

The dead migrants included a 3-year-old boy whose body washed up on a beach, galvanizing a worldwide debate about migration.

The Anadolu Agency said organized crime police detained the suspects, including at least one Syrian citizen, on a beach on Turkey’s Bodrum peninsula. They were sent to a court Thursday to face charges. Anadolu said the four were suspected of acting as intermediaries for illegal migrant crossings.

The 12 migrants drowned when two boats carrying them from Bodrum to the Greek island of Kos capsized on Wednesday.


1045 GMT

Serbia’s prime minister has warned of “huge problems” with migrants once Hungary deploys the military on its southern border with Serbia as part of a bid to stem the influx - and urged the European Union to come up with a plan before that happens.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic said Thursday that “no one knows what will happen” after Sept. 15, when Hungary’s new measures against migrants and human traffickers take effect.

Vucic says Serbia is ready to share its part of the burden of caring for migrants but it needed to hear the EU’s “comprehensive solution.”


1030 GMT

The Czech Republic is releasing 230 Syrians who have been detained in migrant centers. The move comes a day after Czech authorities announced they no longer intended to prevent Syrians who had already claimed asylum in Hungary from traveling via its territory to Germany.

The new policy could allow Syrian migrants to travel more freely to Berlin because the most direct Hungarian trains to Germany’s capital pass through the Czech Republic.


1000 GMT

Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he plans to deploy the military as part of a crackdown on migrants and human traffickers and blames Germany for the influx through his country.

Arriving in Brussels for talks about the crisis, Orban said the Hungarian parliament is pushing through new measures “that will create a new legal situation at the borders, even more strict than it was.”

Asked by The Associated Press whether the military will be deployed to defend Hungary’s borders, he said: “Yes.”

Orban said in Brussels that the migrant “problem is not a European problem, the problem is a German problem, nobody would like to stay in Hungary.”


0900 GMT

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has tweeted the photo of the dead 3-year-old on the beach, writing: “He had a name: Aylan Kurdi. Urgent to act. Urgent to have a European mobilization.”


0850 GMT

Czech police say they have stopped marking the arms of migrants with numbers - a practice reminiscent of the Holocaust.

Police on Tuesday marked arms after they detained more than 200 people, mostly Syrians, in Breclav who had arrived on trains from Hungary and Austria in Germany-bound trains.

Spokeswoman Katerina Rendlova defended the practice, saying it was used in a chaotic situation to prevent children from being separated from their mothers. Rendlova says police initially gave migrants the numbers on a piece of paper but they threw them away.

Rendlova said Thursday police will use wristbands instead.

Klara Holikova from the Association for Integration and Migration commended the change but said the main problem is that migrants are being detained.


0833 GMT

Greece’s coast guard says it has rescued hundreds of migrants or refugees at sea as they attempted to reach Greek islands clandestinely from the nearby Turkish coast.

The coast guard says it had picked up 751 people in 19 incidents between Wednesday morning and Thursday morning off the coasts of the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi, Kalymnos and Symi. The figures do not include the hundreds more who reach the islands’ shores each day.


0737 GMT

Migrants poured into Budapest’s Keleti rail station on Thursday as police stopped blocking its main entrance, piling into trains despite announcements that there was no service to Western Europe.

Hungary’s railway company said it had suspended all direct trains from the Hungarian capital to western destinations. There was no immediate explanation for the change in its policy.

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