- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - The Latest on migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe (all times local):

3:40 p.m.

German authorities say they recorded an uptick in asylum requests in the first month of 2019.

The interior ministry said Tuesday that authorities received 17,051 asylum requests in January, an increase of 61.5 percent compared with the previous month.

The figure is also 13 percent higher than in January 2018, when the number of asylum requests stood at 15,077.

The main countries of origin for asylum-seekers were Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Iran and Turkey, in that order.


2 p.m.

Europe’s top human rights organization is criticizing Greece over “unsuitable” living conditions in detention facilities for migrants.

A Council of Europe report published Tuesday also said it received “credible” allegations of detainees being physically ill-treated by police, and of migrants who had illegally entered Greece being forced back across the border to Turkey.

The report followed visits by Council of Europe staff last April to detention centers, mostly near the eastern land border with Turkey in Thrace and in the Aegean Sea islands.

Commenting on the report, the Greek government said the allegations had either been investigated and disproved or were still under investigation.

The report singled out living conditions at the Fylakio detention center in Thrace for migrants awaiting deportation as “appalling,” and urged action to reduce overcrowding.


1:40 p.m.

Bosnian authorities say they have identified five migrants from Afghanistan with suspected links to international terrorism.

The country’s office dealing with foreign nationals said Tuesday that the group have been placed under surveillance in a migrants’ center while officials confirm their identities and seek to remove them from Bosnia’s territory.

A statement says another migrant from Afghanistan is suspected of people smuggling and organized crime. They are aged 22-34.

No other details were immediately available. Interior Minister Dragan Mektic says “we are checking their entire route … they entered Bosnia illegally.”

Thousands of migrants have been stuck in Bosnia while trying to reach Western Europe. From Bosnia, migrants go to neighboring European Union member Croatia and then further west.


11:45 a.m.

Police in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki are investigating a possible racist motive in the firebombing of an apartment housing a family of ten Iraqi migrants.

The attack overnight Tuesday caused no injuries and minor damage. Police say a petrol bomb was thrown onto the balcony of the ground-floor apartment, and the fire was extinguished by residents.

Police say a witness reported seeing two men fleeing the scene of the attack. The case is being handled by the department for racist crimes.

Greece is a major arrival point for migrants entering illegally from Turkey who seek a better life in Europe.


10 a.m.

Croatian police have discovered several dozen migrants hidden in a truck and detained two suspected people smugglers.

Police say a patrol stopped the truck with Slovenian license plates early on Tuesday near Gracac, in southern Croatia close to the Adriatic Sea coast.

Authorities are working to establish the identity of the migrants who can now seek asylum in Croatia, a European Union member country. Croatia’s state TV says they are mostly from Bangladesh, Pakistan or India.

Thousands of migrants are traveling through the Balkans aiming to reach Western Europe. From Croatia, migrants go to Slovenia, Austria and other wealthy EU nations.

Migrants mostly rely on people smugglers to take them across the borders illegally.

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