- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - The Latest on European efforts to cope with an influx of refugees and migrants (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

Austria’s defense minister says he expects to start implementing tougher controls on the country’s border with Italy within the next few weeks to meet an increase in attempted migrant crossings.

Hans Peter Doskozil says about 5,000 people fleeing war and other threats or looking for better lives have tried to cross over his country’s border with Italy over the past few weeks.

He told reporters Tuesday that “we expect that Austria will likely implement “restrictive controls over the next few weeks.”

He says the army is ready to increase its presence at the border by hundreds of soldiers, if needed.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says she plans to meet with her Italian counterpart on Friday before the start of any new border restrictions.


12:55 p.m.

Serbian police say they have arrested six suspected people-smugglers after finding 34 migrants - including 15 minors - hidden in a truck which allegedly had illegally crossed the border from Bulgaria.

The six detained suspects are facing charges of smuggling people and illegal crossing of the state border. Police say they have confiscated three vehicles, six mobile phones and 65,000 euros ($73,000.)

Migrants fleeing war and poverty and hoping to reach Western Europe have been turning to people-smugglers to take them over the borders after countries along the former Balkan migrant corridor closed the borders few months ago.


12:25 p.m.

A Turkish coast guard official says 55 migrants hoping to reach Europe were apprehended the first day the agreement between Turkey and the European Union went into effect.

The official, who said the migrants of “various nationalities” were intercepted off Turkey’s western coast, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

As part of the EU-Turkey agreement, 202 migrants and refugees who had not applied for asylum in Greece were returned to Turkey Monday from Greek islands. No transfers were planned Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a German-flagged NATO ship patrolled the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece as part of the alliance’s mission to help end the deadly smuggling of asylum-seekers.


12:05 p.m.

Authorities in Greece have suspended deportations to Turkey and acknowledged that most migrants and refugees detained on Greek islands have applied for asylum.

The European Union began sending back migrants Monday under an agreement with Turkey, but no transfers were planned Tuesday.

Maria Stavropoulou, director of Greece’s Asylum Service, told state TV that some 3,000 people held in deportation camps on the islands are seeking asylum, with the application process to formally start by the end of the week.

She says asylum applications typically take about three months to process, but would be “considerably faster” for those held in detention.


11:55 a.m.

Austrian police say they have detained a man on suspicion of smuggling migrants after 14 Iranian, Pakistani and Uzbek nationals were seen leaving a van he was driving.

They said Tuesday that the suspect was taken into custody Monday evening near Austria’s border with Hungary.

The van had Bulgarian license plates. Police say the suspect denies wrongdoing. He was not identified in line with Austrian privacy laws.

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