Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Islamic invasion of Europe update (November 11, 2015)

Valletta (AFP) - Sweden and Slovenia on Wednesday became the latest European nations to tighten borders to ease an unprecedented migration crisis as African leaders warned their EU counterparts against building a "fortress" Europe.
VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — The European Union pressed African leaders on Wednesday to take back thousands of people who do not qualify for asylum, holding talks in Malta as overwhelmed Slovenia began building a razor-wire border fence to keep asylum-seekers out.

According to the International Organization for Migration, almost 800,000 people have entered Europe by sea this year. The EU predicts that three million more could arrive by 2017.

The Europeans say most Africans are coming in search of work and should be sent home, but many deliberately arrive without documents and must wait months before they are taken back.

Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec has informed Austrian authorities that the razor-wire fence his country is erecting along the border with Croatia to stem the flow of migrants will be 80 kilometers (50 miles) long, according to the Austrian Press Agency.

Slovenia started erecting the fence Wednesday morning on two locations along its 670-kilometer (400-mile) border with Croatia.

Erjavec explained the fence will direct the migrants toward registration centers, Josef Ostermayer, senior deputy to Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, told reporters after the meeting in Vienna.

Thousands of refugees and other migrants are gathered at Greece's border with Macedonia waiting to continue their journey north toward more prosperous European Union countries, as the surge of people heading to the Greek mainland from the eastern Aegean islands continues following the end of a ferry strike last week.

About 4,000 people were waiting to cross at 6 a.m. Wednesday, with about half in a camp in the Idomeni border area and the rest in 40 buses. Macedonian border police were allowing groups of 50 people to cross roughly every 10-15 minutes.

"My journey from Syria to Greece took 10 days and it was relatively good. I hope it continues this way until I reach Germany," said 22-year-old Yazan Alouf as he waited with friends to cross the border.

Greek police said about 6,200 people had crossed from Tuesday morning until Wednesday morning.

Czech Republic
Dozens of asylum-seekers in a Czech reception center are on hunger strike to protest their detention and a possible return to their country of origin.

Media say about 44 people, mostly from Iraq, are refusing to eat in the Drahonice facility located west of Prague.

Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told Czech public radio that they started their protest after some 40 other migrants were returned from the center to another European country.

In a statement sent through Mikulas Vymetal, a Protestant priest, to the local CTK news agency, the asylum-seekers complain they've been detained too long and say they would rather die than return home.

There are currently more than 140 people in the center.

Czech authorities say hunger strikes are not rare in the migrant centers.

Norwegian news agency NTB says 162 asylum-seekers have been evacuated after a refugee shelter in southern Norway caught on fire.

No one was injured in the blaze, which started just before 2 a.m. Wednesday in Hemsedal. NTB says the kitchen and administrative section of the facility burned to the ground.

Police said it was too early to speculate on the cause.

In neighboring Sweden, more than a dozen refugee shelters have been damaged or destroyed in recent weeks in a wave of suspected arson attacks.

Norway's security service PST has said the sharp rise in asylum-seekers could increase the threat from right-wing extremists.

Denmark's prime minister says the country will tighten its immigration rules to stem a recent increase in people seeking asylum.

Unlike neighbors Germany and Sweden, Denmark has not seen dramatic numbers of migrants this year, which Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said shows his government's strict immigration policies are working.

However, he told reporters Wednesday that further restrictions are needed after 3,600 people applied for asylum in Denmark in October.

The new measures include reducing benefits for asylum-seekers, shortening residence permits for those allowed to stay and stepping up efforts to deport those who are not.

The center-right leader says "we are not going to have the chaotic situation in Denmark that we have seen in other countries."

Denmark has received about 10,000 asylum-seekers this year while Sweden received a similar number just last week.

Austria's Interior Ministry says it expects a record number of 95,000 asylum applications this year.

The forecast seen Wednesday on the ministry website exceeds ministry estimates of 80,000 for all of 2015 published just a few weeks ago and is more than double the previous high of 39,854 in 2002.

Austria initially was mostly a transit country for those wanting to go to Germany, Sweden and other destinations further. But the new numbers reflect that it now is increasingly a final destination for many refugees seeking safety and a new life.

Tensions are mounting on the Slovenia-Croatia border after Slovenia started building a fence on disputed territory to stem an influx of migrants.

AP journalists saw Croatian police demand that Slovenia take down a section of the fence on Wednesday.

Croatian special forces have arrived at the Harmica border crossing on the Croatian side, while Slovenian special police with long barrel weapons are standing on the Slovenian side. A helicopter is flying above illuminating the area with a spotlight.

Croatia authorities are claiming that the Slovenian fence has entered Croatian territory in seven locations and want it removed.

Slovenia denies any part of the fence is on Croatian soil. Both countries are locked in a dispute over certain parts of their territory after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Sweden says it will introduce temporary border controls to stem the flow of migrants into the Scandinavian country.

Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said the border controls will be introduced at noon Thursday local time and last initially for ten days until Nov. 21.

Sweden says migration authorities are overstretched and nearly 200,000 asylum-seekers are expected this year. Relative to population size — Sweden has 9.7 million people — no other EU country comes close.
Sweden's interior minister says the move to introduce temporary border controls is a way to "bring order" to the Swedish asylum system while also sending a signal to the European Union.

Anders Ygeman said Wednesday that "Sweden is the country that has taken the greatest responsibility for the refugee crisis" and that "the other countries also have to take their responsibility."

It wasn't immediately clear whether the move would allow Sweden to turn people away at the border. But it would hinder people from transiting through the country to reach neighboring Finland and Norway.

Ygeman said migrants arriving at the border would have to decide whether to apply for asylum in Sweden or to turn back around.

Most migrants are coming to Sweden by boat from Germany or across the Oresund bridge from Denmark.