Greek islands overwhelmed, EU says migrant crisis will last
Mytilene (Greece), September 8
Tens of thousands of migrants massed on Greek islands today as the president of the European Union warned the refugee crisis would last for years and the UN pleaded for a worldwide solution.
Germany, already bearing the brunt of the human wave to Europe, said it could take half a million refugees annually for a few years, but stressed other European countries should accept their fair share.
With Greece's migration minister Yiannis Mouzalas admitting the island of Lesbos was "on the verge of explosion", authorities opened a new centre to process the 30,000 refugees the UN said are stuck there and on other Aegean Sea flashpoints, with Athens promising more for other bottlenecks.
Greece's migrant reception agency said it had asked the EU for emergency medical aid, bedding equipment and over 9.5 million euros (USD 10.6 million) to support reception services on Lesbos, Samos and Kos and send an operational unit to Chios.
Lesbos mayor Spyros Galinos said procedural pressures were easing after an additional 140 staff arrived from Athens to handle migrant and refugee registration.
"Some 7,000 people were registered yesterday and we expect at least the same number today," he told AFP.
Hours earlier, a handful of coastguards and riot police armed with batons had struggled to control some 2,500 migrants in Lesbos's main port, screaming "keep back" as the crowds surged towards a government-chartered ferry bound for Athens.
The chaotic scenes underscored the difficulty facing authorities across Europe as they struggle with waves of people trudging across the continent, many of them Syrians fleeing war and misery. EU president Donald Tusk warned that the human haemorrhage to Europe would be long-lasting. — AFP
Spain, in U-turn, says will take as many refugees as EU proposes
Spain is ready to accept as many refugees as proposed by the European Commission, the country said on Tuesday, a sharp change of heart after arguing it was being asked to take too many. "Spain will take the refugees that the European Union asks us to," Deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in an interview on La Sexta television
The comments appeared to be a U-turn by Spain's centre-right government, which resisted the Commission's original proposal in May that Spain take a smaller number of refugees on the grounds that its 22% unemployment rate and migrants reaching its shores directly from Africa limited its absorption capacity
We need joint asylum system, says Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that Europe needed to implement a joint system for dealing with asylum seekers and agree to binding quotas on how to distribute refugees across the continent. Germany expects the number of refugees it receives to quadruple to about eight lakh this year and says it cannot continue to take them in at that rate.
Hungary PM vows to speed up anti-migrant fence
Hungary’s premier vowed on Tuesday to speed up the construction of an anti-migrants fence on its southern border as it emerged that the defence minister had quit because of the slow pace. Hungary's border with Serbia has become a major crossing point into the European Union, with more than 160,000 entering Hungary so far this year including 2,706 on Monday alone.
Austria pledges to improve conditions
Austria will improve its accommodation for asylum seekers as winter approaches and increase capacity at refugee-processing centres in anticipation of new arrivals, Chancellor Werner Faymann said. Even before Austria and Germany threw open their borders to a wave of migrants, the Austria pledged to improve conditions at its centres for asylum seekers.
Global effort need of the hour, says Hillary
Hillary Clinton is calling for a "concerted global effort" to assist the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Africa and Asia seeking refuge in Europe. The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination said "everyone should be asked to do more" to help the migrants, many of whom are fleeing the civil war in Syria.