- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) - The Latest on Europe’s response to the inflow of asylum-seekers and migrants to the continent (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

Greek authorities say another 27 Syrian refugees who had their initial bids for asylum rejected have been returned to Turkey.

A public order ministry statement says the 17 men, four women and six children were flown Thursday from the eastern Aegean Sea island of Lesbos to Adana.

Under a deal struck last March between the European Union and Turkey, migrants reaching the Greek islands from Turkey are returned unless they can prove they merit asylum in Greece.

More than 800 people have been returned under the agreement, while about 23,000 new arrivals have reached the Greek islands.

Nearly all new arrivals seek asylum in Greece, launching a lengthy review process during which they cannot be removed from the country.


7 p.m.

The winter freeze gripping Greece is threatening the livelihoods of two Aegean island fishermen credited with saving hundreds of lives during the height of Europe’s migration crisis.

Heavy snowfall on the island of Lesbos this week sunk the boats of the two men, who were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to save refugees and other migrants whose flimsy boats sunk at sea.

Island mayor Spyridon Galinos has pledged to help compensate them with prize money from Sweden’s Olof Palme Memorial Fund that recognized the humanitarian acts of Lesbos residents.

Thanassis Marmarinos told The Associated Press on Thursday that losing his boat in the small harbor of Skala Sykaminias village was a hard blow. All his navigational equipment was wrecked.

Days of snowfall have caused problems across Greece.


5 p.m.

Migrants staying at a crumbling warehouse in central Belgrade say they have trouble breathing because of the smoke from fires they have lit to warm up in freezing temperatures.

One man, Hassan Han from Pakistan, said Thursday that two migrants were hospitalized due to inhaling too much smoke. He says up to half of the people living at the abandoned warehouse in Serbia’s capital are having lung problems.

Hundreds of men have occupied the warehouse hoping to find a way to get into western Europe. Aid groups have warned that migrants across Europe are at risk of exposure this winter.

Andrea Contenta, the humanitarian affairs officer for Doctors Without Borders, says Europe should recognize that the flow of migrants has continued despite the closure of borders in the Balkans last year.


12:10 p.m.

The leader of the European Union’s presidency says that record numbers of migrants will try to cross the Mediterranean this spring and he wants the EU to work with Libya now to stem the flow.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Thursday that “we will have a crisis.”

Muscat said Europe can choose between “trying to do something now, or meeting urgently in April, May … and try to do a deal then.”

He says that the EU should draw up an arrangement with Libya, from where most migrants leave Africa for Europe. It would use European money and expand an agreement already in place between Italy and Libya.

Muscat said “there is already a framework that has been negotiated. The Italian deal can serve as a basis.”

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