- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

BRUSSELS (AP) - The Latest on Europe’s response to the wave of migration from Syria and other countries (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

The European Union says Turkey must meet a number of conditions within two weeks if it wants to secure visa-free travel in Europe for its citizens before July.

The EU’s migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said Wednesday that “if we continue working like this most of the benchmarks will be met.”

The offer of visa-free travel by the end of June is one of several incentives the EU has offered Turkey to stop migrants coming to Europe.

Turkish leaders have said the whole migrant deal will collapse if the EU fails to grant a visa waiver.

The European Commission is to present a new visa liberalization report on May 4. If Turkey has met the requirements by then the Commission will propose that it be put on the visa-free list.


1:15 p.m.

The European Union’s statistics agency says that EU countries granted asylum to more than 330,000 applicants last year, as more than 1 million people arrived in search of sanctuary or jobs.

Eurostat said Wednesday that 333,350 people were granted international protection, a 72 percent increase over 2014.

Around half of them - 166,100 people - were Syrian citizens, while 27,600 came from Eritrea and 23,700 from Iraq.

Germany, Sweden, Italy and France approved most applications. Germany took in 60 percent of the Syrians, the agency says.

Eurostat did not say how many of the approved asylum applications were made before 2015, nor did it say how many applications from last year are still pending.


12:25 p.m.

Human Rights Watch has urged Turkey to allow Syrians displaced by government shelling to cross the border to safety.

It says the Syrian army hit two migrant camps on April 13 and 15, triggering an exodus of 3,000 people.

Last week, the rights group said Turkish border guards had shot at Syrians escaping an Islamic State offensive. Turkey, home to 2.7 million Syrian refugees, rejects the claim and says it has an open-door policy toward migrants, but new arrivals are rare.

Rights groups have repeatedly slammed a new Turkey-EU deal to curtail the flood of refugees into Europe, raising questions about the safety of Syrian refugees on both sides of the Turkish border.

The rights group says tens of thousands of civilians are trapped along Turkey’s border.

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