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Central American migrants vote to reform caravan, continue march toward US

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue marching toward the US border. The migrants in question, most of whom are from Honduras, had entered Mexico without registering by crossing the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, either by swimming or on makeshift rafts. It followed a chaotic day at the border on Friday when thousands surged through a series of police lines and barricades, only to ultimately be pushed back by Mexican officers in riot gear. Thousands remain stranded on the bridge connecting the two nations. Rodrigo Abeja, one of the caravan's leaders, told The Associated Press the group that crossed the border would move toward the Mexican city of Tapachula on Sunday morning. "We don't yet know if we will make it to the (US) border, but we are going to keep going as far as we can," he said. The migrants gathered in a park on the Mexican side of the river crossing shouting "Let's all walk together!" and "Yes we can!" Mexico allows women, children to register as migrants Meanwhile, authorities at Mexico's southern border on Saturday allowed small groups of women and children to enter the country and be processed by immigration officials. Those migrants were then taken to a shelter in Tapachula, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the border. Most of the women and children had spent the night sleeping out in the open, either on the packed border bridge or in the Guatemalan border city of Tecun Uman. Mexican authorities have insisted that those still stranded on the bridge crossing will have to file asylum claims one-by-one to gain access to the country. It remains unclear whether their applications are likely to be accepted. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has organized a fleet of buses to take the migrants back to their native Honduras. Initial estimates suggest over 300 people have already taken up the offer. Trump: Migrant caravan politically motivated The migrant caravan's decision to continue travelling toward the US comes despite assertions by US President Donald Trump on Friday that not a single one of them would be allowed to enter the United States "on [his] watch." Trump has sought to make the caravan and US border security a central issue ahead of midterm elections in just over two weeks' time. The president kept up that rhetoric during a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday. "The Democrats want caravans, they like the caravans. A lot of people say 'I wonder who started that caravan?'" he said. Trump went on to praise Mexican authorities for trying to halt the caravan's progress. "Mexico has been so incredible. Thank you Mexico and the leaders of Mexico, thank you," he said. "And you know why, because now Mexico respects the leadership of the United States." However, Mexico's increasingly no-nonsense approach to the large inflows of migrants has largely come on the back of Trump's threats to cut aid and shut down the US-Mexico border if authorities did not stop them. Back in Guatemala, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales echoed Trump's politicized theme as the pair met Saturday to discuss the crisis. "This migration has political motivations," said Morales, "which is violating the borders and the good faith of the states and of course putting at risk the most important thing, people." Hernandez also deplored "the abuse of people's needs" for "political reasons." Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, has seen violent street gangs brutally rule over large swathes of turf for years. With a homicide rate of nearly 43 citizens per 100,000, the country ranks among the poorest and most violent in the Americas

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue ... Read More »

Germany: Altena locals shocked by pro-refugee mayor’s stabbing

Altena has been rocked by the recent knife attack on its pro-migrant mayor. Despite widespread shock over the stabbing in the sleepy German town, some residents said discontent had been growing for some time. Less than 24 hours after Altena Mayor Andreas Hollstein was attacked by a man with a knife at a neighborhood kebab shop, he returned to the scene of the crime on Tuesday — to thank the men who helped save his life. Carrying a bouquet of bright flowers and with a long, white bandage covering up the 15-centimeter (5.9-inch) knife wound on his neck, Hollstein strode into City Döner-Pizza, warmly embracing the shop's owner, Demir Abdullah, who along with his son helped tackle the assailant. "I am certain that if I hadn't received help, I wouldn't be here," Hollstein said during a press conference earlier in the day. Abdullah, sporting his own bandage on his left hand from injuries sustained during the struggle with the suspect, smiled when asked what the mayor brought him. "He gave me flowers," Abdullah told DW, "He said he wanted to say thank you." The migrant-friendly mayor Hollstein's efforts to take in 370 refugees — 100 more than was required by law — had earned Altena accolades, including Germany's first-ever National Prize for Integration. It also made him a target on Monday night. According to eye witnesses, the 56-year-old assailant in the shop asked Hollstein: "Are you the mayor?" and made comments related to immigration policies before slashing at Hollstein's throat. The suspect, who prosecutors said had a high level of alcohol in his blood at the time of the attack, has been charged with attempted murder. Authorities have said that the attack was "politically motivated." A town divided For the residents of Altena, nestled in a valley in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the news about the attack on their town's mayor came as a shock. "I never would have expected that," 74-year-old Doris Beyer told DW. "I think it's absolutely terrible." She said that although "some people have this attitude against refugees," she isn't bothered by the town's policies and can understand that people fleeing conflicts in their home countries "want to live in peace." Ali Erdem and Youbane Rashid, two locals who have called Altena home for decades after moving to the German town from Turkey and Morocco respectively, were likewise disturbed about the news and even more concerned about the alleged motive behind the attack. "I have no idea why something like this would suddenly happen," Rashid told DW. "The mayor is good. He does his job. What's happened here isn't good." Asked if they've experienced any anti-migrant sentiment in town, Erdem said he's "never heard anything," noting that they "have a good life." 'This is a dead town' Many locals emphasized that the attacker was likely an outlier. As one woman in her 60s put it: "There are always idiots." Some, however, told DW they perhaps understood what may have motivated the crime. "I think it's sad that it had to come to this," said 41-year-old Jürgen Menzel. "But some residents do not agree with how politics are run here in Altena." Regardless of how they personally feel about Hollstein's refugee policies, nearly everyone in Altena agreed the town needs fixing. "This is a dead town," repeated residents time and time again in a chorus echoing through the damp city streets. "Look at these apartments, they're half empty," one woman who did not wish to be named told DW, gesturing at rows of buildings. "There's no playgrounds, no open spaces in daycare, there's nothing here." "It's terrible what happened to the mayor, but it was to be expected," she added. "He's done nothing to fix this." The local government's refugee policies didn't cause Altena's problems, but the perception of preferential treatment, a fear that something is "being taken away" from them as well as the stark reality of an ever-growing number of empty storefronts has led to a strong undercurrent of discontent. These perceptions — many noted that these are misconceptions — have agitated the wounds of a town that has experienced a serious demographic shift as industry jobs move away from the area, leaving many residents with no option but to depart with them. Hollstein said Tuesday he was already addressing some of these concerns, and that he stands by the town's refugee policy, and he will keep on fighting to improve the lives of those living in Altena. "I will continue to work for the refugees as well as the people who were already there," Hollstein said.

Altena has been rocked by the recent knife attack on its pro-migrant mayor. Despite widespread shock over the stabbing in the sleepy German town, some residents said discontent had been growing for some time. Less than 24 hours after Altena Mayor Andreas Hollstein was attacked by a man with a knife at a neighborhood kebab shop, he returned to the ... Read More »

Angela Merkel denies major damage after conservatives’ local election loss

Is Angela Merkel already under pressure less than a month after re-election? The German chancellor has fought back after her party's poor performance in Lower Saxony and the rise of a "new" conservatism in Austria. It's safe to say that October 15 won't make Angela Merkel's list of favorite days. Having led by as much as 10 percentage points in polls not that long ago, the chancellor's conservative CDU party finished second-best to the Social Democrats in Lower Saxony's regional election, causing critics to ponder whether Merkel's fortunes were on the wane. A headline in Germany's Bild newspaper termed the chancellor "seriously damaged" – an impression she sought to refute on Monday as she heads into negotiations for a broad three-party coalition to form the next government. "I – or we as the CDU, as conservatives – are going into these discussions secure in the knowledge that we're the strongest party," Merkel told reporters at party headquarters in Berlin. "I don't see the result of the Lower Saxony vote as weakening us as we tackle this task.” It was perhaps a telling near-slip of the tongue. Despite winning Germany's national election last month, the result was the CDU's worst ever in terms of percentage, which has led some critics to speculate that Merkel's moderation may be costing the party right-wing votes. Austria's simultaneous national lurch to the right after a victory by a self-branded new style of conservative, Sebastian Kurz, was also interpreted as an implicit criticism of the centrist Merkel and her welcoming stance on migrants. Both Kurz's conservatives and the right-wing populist FPÖ performed strongly. "The success of Kurz and the FPÖ can be interpreted as the opposite of Merkel's position, as a rejection of the culture of welcoming migrants," political science professor Eckhard Jesse told DW. Merkel dismissed the idea that Kurz had gotten something right that she had gotten wrong. "Our margin of victory over the second strongest party was a lot larger," Merkel said, adding that Germany's far-right populist party, the AfD, had achieved far more "modest" results then the FPÖ. Refugees a 'matter of rhetoric' Still, Merkel did seem a bit disgruntled. The longtime chancellor was no doubt hoping for a bit more momentum as she attempts to build Germany's first ever "Jamaica" coalition with the free-market FDP and the more left-wing Greens. Another question heading into Wednesday's first talks was where the CDU would position itself in that triangle. There has been speculation that after conservatives won less than 33 percent of the vote in the Bundestag election on September 24, Merkel would have no choice but to reposition her party further to the right. As if to refute that notion, the chancellor appeared in front of a backdrop with the slogan "Die Mitte," or "the center." She also said that the policy differences, particularly on the issue of migrants, between her conservatives and Kurz's party in Austria had been overestimated. "As far as differences in refugee policy are concerned, I've talked with Mr. Kurz a number of times, and they're not all that clear," Merkel said. "I think there's not much disagreement about fighting the root causes and the need to conclude an agreement with Turkey. It's more a matter of rhetoric." While Merkel would lose credibility with a dramatic shift to the right, experts say that the chancellor, who has promised there will be no repeat of the mass migration to Germany of 2015, has already tacitly begun modulating her positions. "In practice, she's already moved, but she's not going to make a big deal of it in the form of statements," Jesse explained. Still, it's going to be a tricky balancing act to mediate between the FDP's calls for more restrictive policies on migrants with the Green's more welcoming position – all the while trying to ensure that the wishes of her own party are met. An orderly transition to a post-Merkel era? Merkel stressed that she was not going into coalition talks with any preconceived notions, saying that the CDU would not be presenting any "lines in the sand." When asked which topics the CDU would be pushing, she named pensions and the needs of rural people. Otherwise, she tended to stick to issues on which there is broad consensus, like the need for more digitalization and affordable places to live in Germany, while largely avoiding the migrant topic. That may be interpreted as weakness, although Jesse cautioned against reading too much into one bad day for the chancellor. "The election in Lower Saxony was very much one of local issues," he explained. "The Jamaica coalition is not endangered. It's nonsense to act as though Merkel's position in the coalition negotiations has been weakened." But Jesse also thinks that Merkel's next moves will be conditioned by the idea that she may not want to serve out another full four year term as chancellor. "The question is how long she wants to do this," Jesse said. "I think she'll hand over power some time in the next legislative period. She'll make a surprise announcement, and the next man or woman will have a chance to show what he or she can do. I believe she'll be the first chancellor to successfully manage a transition."

Is Angela Merkel already under pressure less than a month after re-election? The German chancellor has fought back after her party’s poor performance in Lower Saxony and the rise of a “new” conservatism in Austria. It’s safe to say that October 15 won’t make Angela Merkel’s list of favorite days. Having led by as much as 10 percentage points in ... Read More »

AfD top candidate Alexander Gauland: Close Germany’s borders

Alexander Gauland, the top candidate for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany, has told DW there should be a clear path for repatriating migrants. Accepting refugees is not in Germany's interest, he said. Alexander Gauland is the top candidate for Alternative for Germany (AfD) in September's general election. In an interview with DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl and moderator Jaafar Abdul-Karim, he said that Germany and Europe's borders should be closed. The former, long-time member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) said it is wrong that people without papers can enter Germany. "These people shouldn't even be allowed into the country," he said. Ayslum seekers should be in asylum centers outside Germany, even outside Europe, where they can apply for asylum if they really qualify, he added. Those fleeing a war zone, such as Syria, are entitled to only limited asylum according to the Geneva Convention, he said. Gauland is running with Alice Weidel as right-wing populist party's top candidates for the Bundestag. Most migrants are arriving for economic reasons, and while people have a legitimate right to seek a better life, he said, it is equally legitimate for a state to deny them a place. "We have to take our own interests into account, and taking in masses of refugees is not in the interests of Germany," Gauland said, adding that Germany is "not the world's doormat." "It's all voluntary, nobody's forcing them to come from southern Africa to or through Libya," he said. "So anybody who comes through Libya of their own accord can also be sent back there." Refugees as campaign centerpiece The AfD has grown in popularity since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. Germany's refugee policy is one of the party's core issues for the 2017 general election campaign. The party holds seats in 13 of the country's 16 state parliaments, and could enter the Bundestag for the first time in the general election on September 24. Polls suggest it may capture 8 percent of the vote. The threshold to hold seats is 5 percent. "Chancellor [Angela Merkel's] misguided refugee policy is a gift to the AfD," said Gauland, who quit the CDU in 2013 after more than four decades working for the party. Islam: No place in Germany The AfD stands in contrast to Germany's other parties not only on refugees, but also on the topic of Islam in Germany, which is home to around 5 million Muslims. "Islam as a cultural and religious entity has no place in Germany," Gauland said, underlining a stance contained in the AfD's party platform. "It disturbs me that Islam, with its Sharia law and certain provisions, is a religion that we can clearly say is not compatible with the Basic Law." Gauland went onto say that while the Basic Law, Germany's constitution, protects one's private beliefs, "what is not OK is to open a so-called back door to the gradual insertion of Islamic rules." When asked why he himself does not meet with Muslims, Gauland said: "I have no need to talk to Muslims in any official capacity. But if I have somebody at hand, then of course I'm ready to talk to them. That's not a problem." 'Russia will never give Crimea back' On foreign policy, the AfD opposes sanctions placed on Russia following its illegal annexation of Crimea. "Russia will never give Crimea back," he said. "I don't think sanctions will have any effect." Gauland opposes EU membership for Turkey, saying: "All payments in this regard should be stopped immediately." However, he said the AfD would like to see Turkey remain a part of NATO, "provided [President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan refrains from neo-Ottoman policies." "During the Cold War, Turkey was always a sentry," he added. "I see no reason to exclude it from the alliance." Gauland is responsible for the AfD's foreign affairs "to a certain extent," he said. "But an anarchistic party doesn't have a real boss. And that's what we are." The AfD is well known for its regular infighting. The DW series interviewing each of the party's top candidates concludes by asking the candidates to pick one of their opponents to have as company on a deserted island. Gauland chose Sahra Wagenknecht, the top candidate for the Left party.

Alexander Gauland, the top candidate for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany, has told DW there should be a clear path for repatriating migrants. Accepting refugees is not in Germany’s interest, he said. Alexander Gauland is the top candidate for Alternative for Germany (AfD) in September’s general election. In an interview with DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl and moderator Jaafar Abdul-Karim, ... Read More »

More asylum requests processed in Germany than rest of EU combined – reports

New figures show Germany received and processed more asylum requests in the first nine months of 2016 than the rest of the EU combined. Italy and France received the second and third highest number of requests. Figures released Tuesday by the EU statistics office, Eurostat, show that around 420,000 asylum requests were processed in Germany in the first nine months of 2016 - more than in all other 27 EU countries combined. A total of 756,000 asylum requests processed in the EU between January and September 2016, 55 percent of which were handled in Germany. Of the overall 988,000 EU asylum requests made in the same timeframe, around two-thirds were made in Germany. Figures vary, however, as to the exact number of requests made in Germany. Eurostat puts the number at 612,000, while the Federal Interior Ministry puts it at 658,000. Speaking to German newspaper Die Welt, which broke the story on Tuesday, Johannes Singhammer, one of the vice presidents of the German parliament, said: "The oft-quoted notion that Europe is shifting responsibility for taking in refugees to the southern countries simply doesn't hold when you look at the figures." The number's also "make clear that refugee crisis in Germany has not been overcome," Singhammer said. The number of asylum requests for 2016 does not necessarily reflect the number of refugees that entered Germany in the same period. Many of those who applied for asylum last year had already entered the country a year before, but had been unable to make a formal request. The German government recorded around 272,000 arrivals in the first nine months 2016 using its electronic registration system. Asylum in the rest of the EU Italy processed some 68,000 asylum requests in the first three quarters of 2016 while receiving around 85,000 requests. France processed nearly the same number at 63,000. Although Italy processed the second highest number of asylum requests, the total still only comes to less than one-sixth the amount processed in Germany. Denmark, meanwhile, saw a sharp decrease in the number of asylum applications, falling from roughly 21,000 in 2015 to 5,300 in the first nine months of 2016. The figures published by Eurostat and Die Welt also shows which other EU have fallen short when dealing with asylum cases. In Greece, the first European destination for many refugees that fled conflicts in the Middle East, the government processed just 7,600 of 30,000 asylum requests. When the migrant crisis broke out in 2015, Greece was widely used my incoming migrants as a transit country than a destination. However, with much of the Balkan route into central and western Europe since close off, the indebted country has struggled to provide basic provision to the some 50,000 migrants still housed in refugee camps.

New figures show Germany received and processed more asylum requests in the first nine months of 2016 than the rest of the EU combined. Italy and France received the second and third highest number of requests. Figures released Tuesday by the EU statistics office, Eurostat, show that around 420,000 asylum requests were processed in Germany in the first nine months ... Read More »

CSU’s Seehofer: cap on migrants a precondition for next government

Never before has Bavaria's Minister President spoken so bluntly about limiting the influx of migrants. Now, Merkel's conservative ally has said a cap will be a prerequisite to forming a new government next year. "Without an annual threshold of 200,000 migrants allowed to enter Germany, the Christian Social Union (CSU) will refuse to be part of the next government," the Bavarian party's head Horst Seehofer told news agency dpa on Wednesday. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel has so far refused to entertain the notion of such a cap, Seehofer sought Wednesday to enforce his position on the German television program "Farbe bekennen". When pressed whether the CSU would otherwise run as an opposition party, Seehofer responded: "You've got that right." The CSU leader also said he was confident he would be able to push his party's position and overcome any resistance expressed by the Chancellor. "We're going to get this cap," he said, citing that Merkel and allies in her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party also wanted to avoid a repeat in the influx of migrants arriving in Germany over the past year. "We want to assure the people that we will be part of a government that keeps its word," the CSU head said. However, Seehofer argued that a cap was a necessary requisite to allow Germany to continue taking in people most in need. He also said that he explicitly supports such a policy. The Minister President of Bavaria also welcomed the CDU's decision to include last week's party conference vote to only allow dual nationality under exceptional circumstances as part of its mandate for the 2017 election. Although Merkel and other leading CDU figures voiced their displeasure about the result, Seehofer said they "cannot ignore the party convention." The policy would require children born in Germany to migrant parents to opt for either German nationality or that of their parents.

Never before has Bavaria’s Minister President spoken so bluntly about limiting the influx of migrants. Now, Merkel’s conservative ally has said a cap will be a prerequisite to forming a new government next year. “Without an annual threshold of 200,000 migrants allowed to enter Germany, the Christian Social Union (CSU) will refuse to be part of the next government,” the ... Read More »

‘Orderly’ first day of operation to move Calais migrants

More than 2,300 migrants have left the Calais 'Jungle' peacefully on the first day of a French resettlement plan. The notorious camp is to be demolished later this week, as DW's Teri Schultz reports. Saif Ullah watches the hundreds of people lining up in front of him and vows never to be one of them, willing to take the French government's arm-twisting offer to move from a muddy camp in Calais to holding centers in other parts of the country. The 21-year-old Pakistani, who left home two-and-a-half years ago bound for Britain, says he doesn't believe the departing camp occupants will remain in the holding centers either. "You see all these people?" he says, waving at the hordes of young men jostling each other as they wait outside the airplane hangar where they'll be processed. "Everyone wants to go to London." Those men hanging back in the camp, away from the bus lines, gave the same answer time after time: "I'm going to the UK." This, despite the fact the British government has made clear they don't want to take in more than a fraction of even the roughly 1,300 unaccompanied minors who can prove they have relatives there prepared to care for them. Those tentative plans are unclear too due a continuing political tussle between the French and British governments. The registration of minors was halted around midday Monday; most of the kids will have to stay in the jungle for now, in converted shipping containers. The charity "Help Refugees" reports that 49 of those are under the age of 13, and all of them eligible for resettlement in the UK. Getting on the bus But whether or not they were genuinely happy to be given transferred to Burgundy in this first wave, thousands of camp inhabitants were willing to do that rather than face the more unpleasant uncertainty of staying in the sprawling slum which is due to start being physically demolished Tuesday morning. Most of them were Sudanese, Ethiopian and Eritrean, with some Afghans also joining the queue. The "Calais Jungle" has been a hugely controversial issue in French, British and European politics ever since it sprang up in the northeastern part of this French coastal town in the late 90s, swelling to as many 10,000 inhabitants this year. Migrants mainly have come from Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan, hoping to either be smuggled or sneak into the UK across the English Channel. Their self-made holding point has become a city of sorts, with ethnic restaurants and shops of other kinds among the hodgepodge of tents, corrugated tin shanties and shacks reinforced with repurposed planks of wood. But while these desperate people call it home, the 'Jungle's' existence has stigmatized Calais, as well as draining the town's resources. That's why French President Francois Hollande decided in recent weeks it must be permanently removed. Part of the camp was already torn down earlier this year; former president Nicolas Sarkozy destroyed a previous incarnation in 2009. UK response an 'international scandal' French lawmaker Yann Capet, who represents Calais in the federal parliament, was on hand on Monday to assess the situation and was clearly relieved at the relative lack of chaos. Asked how to handle the thousands of people who won't agree to leave and those who don't want to stay in France, Capet says it's necessary to try to "convince, convince, convince, convince" them all that this is their best option to live in decent conditions. He said the makeshift camp would never offer them a life of dignity and wasn't fair to the residents of Calais either. But Capet points out that demolishing the camp is only a short-term solution for an eyesore, not a way to manage the problem of men, women and children flooding to northern France trying to find safety or a better life. That, the parliamentarian emphasized, requires an effective migration plan at the European level as well as globally to "stop the atrocities taking place, for example, in Syria." But the parliamentarian saved his real ire for France's neighbor across the channel. "The UK has not done enough" to help resolve the situation, Capet said, calling it an "international scandal" that "we have unaccompanied minors and sometimes even young children who have family on the other side of the channel" who can take care of them, but Britain is either unwilling or dragging its feet on issuing visas. Where do they go now? Samuel Hanryon of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) joined in the finger pointing across the channel, saying the British government only agreed to "fast track" some youth visas because their predicament has gotten so much media attention, making the issue what he calls "communication petrol." This small number was "able to make their way only after months of waiting in the muddy camp of Calais and this is definitely no place for kids," Hanryon said. And the long waiting period and uncertain outcomes mean that, "you still have some kids who are continuing trying to get on a truck clandestinely," he said. Hanryon acknowledges the quandary of French authorities: that the camp is not a humane way for people to live and provides an unwanted pull factor for more migrants and refugees but that its demolition solves nothing either. He says MSF is ramping up its fleet of mobile clinics as camp residents are dispersed, to help them remain healthy wherever they end up. Saif Ullah is so determined his final destination will be London that, as others boarded the bus for Burgundy, he admitted he was secretly planning his 22nd attempt across the channel.

More than 2,300 migrants have left the Calais ‘Jungle’ peacefully on the first day of a French resettlement plan. The notorious camp is to be demolished later this week, as DW’s Teri Schultz reports. Saif Ullah watches the hundreds of people lining up in front of him and vows never to be one of them, willing to take the French ... Read More »

Migrants, aid groups anxious over clearing of Calais ‘Jungle’

Charities said they're worried about the safety of minors and vulnerable adults ahead of the dismantling of the French migrant camp. Police fired smoke grenades as people grew angry at the "Jungle's" impending closure. French and British aid organizations have complained about the lack of information about next week's planned closure of the migrant camp known as the "Jungle." Their warning came as French police clashed with migrants on Saturday night at the camp in the northern French town of Calais. British charities and lawmakers have written to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve highlighting what they said were "very serious worries concerning the security and well-being of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable adults." The signatories, which included the NGOs Save the Children, the Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee UK, wrote that "the resources currently being deployed … are insufficient to ensure the effective protection of the most vulnerable, notably unaccompanied children." The letter warned that a poorly organized camp clearance would put already at-risk people into an even more precarious situation. The "Jungle," which houses several thousand migrants mainly from the Middle East and Africa has seen its numbers swell in recent months. The migrants head to Calais hoping to reach Britain by ferry or Channel Tunnel train Many of those arriving in Calais are severely traumatized after escaping conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea, psychologists say. Most have described being exploited by people traffickers and many have risked their lives by traveling thousands of kilometers to the French port town. Closure to begin Monday France said that it will begin dismantling the camp on Monday and that officials have arranged a "humanitarian" operation to transfer those staying in the makeshift facility to migrant reception centers around the country and abroad. French teacher Michel Abecassis said many migrants "don't know exactly where (the) reception centers are located" or "how many people there will be." Johannes Maertens, a Benedictine monk who has helped support Calais migrants for several years, said there's uncertainty over the fate of many minors who want to go to Britain but may be refused entry. Violence feared Anxious at the lack of information, a group of about 50 migrants reportedly threw stones and bottles at officers on Saturday evening, who responded with smoke grenades, British media reported. Tensions have risen in the camp since its demolition was announced, and there were violent protests when authorities dismantled one section of the "Jungle" earlier this year. Migrants complain about a lack of information. Leaflets were due to be distributed on Sunday, telling migrants to report to a hangar, from which they will be transferred to reception centers where they can apply for asylum. Some people have left Over the past few days, the first unaccompanied child migrants have been transferred to Britain. Around 100 migrants left the camp on Saturday, while another 50 were due to leave on Sunday. "Monday I take the bus!" said Sudanese national Kali, who has stayed at the "Jungle" for some time. But some others are skeptical whether the camp will be dismantled as planned. "We'll see on Monday; I don't believe it," said one Afghan man, who runs a food shop in the camp. Another Afghan shopkeeper, when asked what he would do after the camp was torn down, just said, "I will go to the next Jungle."

Charities said they’re worried about the safety of minors and vulnerable adults ahead of the dismantling of the French migrant camp. Police fired smoke grenades as people grew angry at the “Jungle’s” impending closure. French and British aid organizations have complained about the lack of information about next week’s planned closure of the migrant camp known as the “Jungle.” Their ... Read More »

Hungary’s migration policy protects ‘European freedom,’ says Orban

Speaking to Bavaria's state legislature, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has likened Hungary's border closure to opening its borders with Austria in 1989, allowing hundreds of East Germans to flee to the West. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday defended his anti-migrant stance, claiming it's his nation's "duty" to protect cherished values in Europe. "I promise you that Hungary will ... always be on the side of European freedom," Orban told the state legislature in Germany's Bavaria. "In 1989, we acted for the freedom of Europe and now we're protecting this freedom," the Hungarian premier added, referring to Budapest's decision to open its border with Austria, allowing hundreds of Germans living under communist rule to flee to the West. In the summer of 2015, Hungary closed its borders to asylum seekers fleeing conflict in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, leaving tens of thousands stranded during their journey towards wealthier EU nations. Seehofer backs Orban Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer, known as a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door policy towards refugees, invited Orban to give a speech to the Bavarian parliament for the 60-year anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising against the Soviet Union. Opposition parties, including the Social Democrats and Left Party, criticized Seehofer's Christian Social Union (CSU) for providing Orban with a platform at the state legislature. Seehofer and Orban have met on three separate occasions over the past year. Nearly 900,000 migrants crossed Germany's borders in 2015, many of them Syrians fleeing war in their homeland.

Speaking to Bavaria’s state legislature, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has likened Hungary’s border closure to opening its borders with Austria in 1989, allowing hundreds of East Germans to flee to the West. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Monday defended his anti-migrant stance, claiming it’s his nation’s “duty” to protect cherished values in Europe. “I promise you that Hungary will ... Read More »

Boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsizes off Egyptian coast

At least 29 people have died after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized near the Egyptian coastline. The boat was reportedly carrying migrants and refugees from Egypt, Syria and several African countries. A rescue mission is underway off the coast of Egypt after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sunk, killing 29 people and injuring five, reported health officials on Wednesday. "Initial information indicates that the boat sank because it was carrying more people than its limit. The boat tilted and the migrants fell into the water," a senior security official in the northern province of Beheira told Reuters news agency. The dead include 18 men, 10 women and one child, reported local authorities. Around 155 people have been rescued so far, said Beheira official Alaa Osman, adding that workers are still pulling bodies from the water. Other Egyptian officials have said the migrants and refugees on board came from Syria, Egypt, Sudan and several African countries. Initial reports from Egypt's state news agency MENA said 600 people were aboard the vessel. Another report from the private Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm said the boat was carrying 300 migrants. It was not immediately clear where the boat was headed, but authorities believe the ship was en route to Italy. Dangerous route With the closure of the Balkan route and a migrant deal with Turkey to halt departures, asylum seekers trying to reach Europe have looked to other paths, turning more and more to departure points in Egypt and Libya. Egypt is starting to become a departure country," Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri told the Funke Group of German newspapers in June. "The number of boat crossings from Egypt to Italy has reached 1,000 (so far) this year," he said. Human smugglers often overcrowd the boats, which are typically unfit for the dangerous sea crossing. Around 320 refugees drowned off the Greek island of Crete in June. Afterwards, survivors told officials that the boat set off from Egypt. in the first six months of this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

At least 29 people have died after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized near the Egyptian coastline. The boat was reportedly carrying migrants and refugees from Egypt, Syria and several African countries. A rescue mission is underway off the coast of Egypt after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sunk, killing 29 people and injuring five, reported health officials ... Read More »

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