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The Latest: UN Official: Wars Create Staggering Needs

Friday, 20 November 2015 04:08 PM

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local:

12:57 a.m.

U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres says new and old wars have made the world much more dangerous and created a staggering escalation in basic needs for millions of people that the world can't meet.

The solution, he said, "is not humanitarian, it's political."

Guterres urged a U.N. General Assembly meeting on the global humanitarian and refugee crisis to step up efforts to prevent and to solve wars that nobody is winning and are becoming "a nightmare" for global peace.

He said "a lot needs to change if we want to respond to this staggering escalation of needs" and lack of resources.

One suggestion from Guterres: stop maintaining refugees in camps for decades and make new compacts with the countries they are in that allows them to be self-reliant.

12:41 a.m.

The U.N. deputy secretary-general says the most effective response to terrorist attacks is "to stand even firmer" to ensure openness and protection to those in desperate need.

But Jan Eliasson told a General Assembly meeting on the global humanitarian and refugee crisis that "the gap between humanitarian needs and available funds has never been higher than it is today."

"We simply do not have the resources for millions and millions of vulnerable people," he said.

Eliasson called for greater global solidarity to address the crisis.

"This challenge will not be met by sealing borders, building fences or taking a strict security approach to the movement of refugees or migrants," he said. "Instead, we must expand safe and legal paths to safety that put middlemen and traffickers out of business."

9:20 p.m.

U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives have approved a Republican bill erecting new barriers for Syrian and Iraqi refugees trying to enter the United States.

Thursday's vote was 289-137 in favor — exceeding the two-thirds majority needed to override any veto from President Barack Obama.

The vote came after White House officials visited Congress and lobbied Democrats to oppose the legislation. Dozens of Democrats still joined Republicans in supporting the measure.

The curbs in effect suspend the entry of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. for months.

Republicans say tighter restrictions are needed following last week's attacks in Paris. Obama and most Democrats say the U.S. system is safe and the country shouldn't abandon its tradition of accepting refugees.

6:15 p.m.

Hungary's prime minister says there will be no peace or security in Europe without tighter controls over the flow of migrants reaching the continent.

Viktor Orban said Thursday after meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that "it has become essential to know about every person arriving in the EU — who they are, where they are from and what they want."

Orban said it was also important to consider that many of the migrants were coming from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, with which different EU members were at war to different degrees. He added that it was in the interest of those three countries to send "saboteurs."

Stoltenberg said "the aim of the terrorist attacks is to scare us ... but we will answer with even stronger defense of our open democratic societies."

5:55 p.m.

An official says 53 of 115 migrants now staying at a British military base on Cyprus are expected to be transferred to a Cypriot housing facility.

Cyprus Foreign Ministry official Homer Mavrommatis told The Associated Press on Thursday that the 53 include those who intend to file an asylum claim as well as others who don't pose a security risk.

The 115 mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians arrived by boat at a British air base on Cyprus last month after setting sail from Lebanon.

Under an agreement with Britain, Cyprus is charged with processing the asylum claims of migrants who land on British base territory. But Cyprus would reject a claim by anyone deemed to pose a security risk.

Mavrommatis said there are security concerns for "close to 30 percent" of the 115 people.

He said more asylum seekers could be transferred to the housing facility on the outskirts of the capital, Nicosia, at a later date.

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said earlier Thursday that those who don't claim asylum face deportation back to their "their country of origin." He repeated that Britain's two military bases on Cyprus are "not a back door" to migration into the U.K.

3:30 p.m.

Cyprus' foreign minister says the country will take in "a substantial number" of asylum-seekers from among 115 people who arrived by boat last month at a British air base on the east Mediterranean island.

Ioannis Kasoulides said after talks with his British counterpart Philip Hammond on Thursday that the transfer of the migrants from accommodation on a British base to a Cypriot housing facility may be completed within the day. He said Cyprus would work with British base authorities to deport any remaining migrants who would have their asylum claim rejected for posing "some kind of security risk."

Hammond said those facing deportation will be returned to "their country of origin" and repeated that the bases are "not a back door" to migration into the U.K.

The migrants, mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, had set sail from Lebanon aboard two fishing boats and had intended to go to Greece.

Bases spokesman Kristian Gray told the Associated Press that a "majority" of the migrants have claimed asylum. He said 13 have indicated they would return to Lebanon voluntarily while some who haven't declared their intentions are being considered for deportation.

An official told the AP earlier this week that Cypriot authorities won't consider the asylum applications of at least six individuals for security reasons. The official had spoken on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to publicly discuss security matters.

1:45 p.m.

Croatia's interior minister says the country has refused to take back 162 people who were rejected by neighboring Slovenia as economic migrants.

Ranko Ostojic said Thursday Croatia also will no longer allow in migrants from war-free countries who wish to pass through on their way toward Western Europe. He says Croatia has informed Serbia and Macedonia down the so-called migrant route, that "it is now obvious they will not be able to pass."

Ostojic also warned that all countries facing the migrant flow on their territories must coordinate their actions to avoid problems with the possible backlog of migrants stuck along the route.

Asylum-seekers have traveled from Turkey to Greece, then Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia before getting to Austria and Germany, where most wish to stay.

12:55 p.m.

Slovenia has started returning people it considers to be economic migrants from its borders, triggering a chain reaction along the Balkan migrant route.

Slovenian police spokesman Drago Menegalia said Thursday that in recent days, "there is increased number of persons who were recognized as pure economic migrants" entering the small Alpine state from Croatia.

He says that "these foreigners do not apply for international protection," according to EU laws.

Slovenian media say that some 70 migrants from Morocco and Ivory Coast have been turned back by the Slovenes in the past few days.

Slovenian officials have indicated that they will continue to allow the transit of refugees from war-ravaged countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq on their way to Austria and other richer EU states.

12:15 p.m.

A Serbian government minister says only refugees fleeing war can now enter the country from Macedonia.

Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin on Thursday blamed EU-members Slovenia and Croatia for the ban, saying they have started turning back the so-called economic migrants.

The move could trigger huge border pileups of migrants along the Balkan corridor which has seen hundreds of thousands of people cross the territory as they head to rich EU states, mostly Germany.

Vulin says, "we have to protect our country and that is why we have applied reciprocal measures toward the people Slovenia and Croatia have no room for."

11:55 a.m.

The U.N. refugee agency says three Balkan countries have shut their borders for migrants from states that are not directly engulfed in wars.

UNHCR spokeswoman in Serbia Melita Sunjic said Thursday the border rebimes were changed overnight.

She says Macedonia is not allowing the entrance from Greece for people from Morocco, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Liberia, Congo and Pakistan.

On the Serbian border with Macedonia, she says the Serbs are allowing in only migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the Croatia-Serbia border, Croats are allowing in only from these three countries, plus Palestine.

She says Serbia has overnight turned back to Macedonia some 200 migrants, and Macedonia has not let them in.

Sunjic says, "so, they are stuck on no-men's land."

11:20 a.m.

The United Nations refugee agency says Macedonia has begun allowing only people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to cross its southern border from Greece, while Greek authorities say migrants of other nationalities are gathering on the Greek side of the border and blocking the crossing completely.

Aleksandra Kraus, UNHCR spokeswoman in Macedonia, said Thursday that Macedonian authorities had begun allowing only people from war zones to enter the country because Serbian authorities had imposed the same criteria on those attempting to cross the Macedonian-Serbian border.

In the Greek border area of Idomeni, police said the border has essentially been shut to all since about 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) after a group of roughly 300 people, mostly from Iran, gathered at the crossing seeking also to be allowed through. A further 2,500 people are waiting in a camp set up nearby to provide shelter for those heading north through the Balkans.

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The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local:12:57 a.m.U.N. refugee chief Antonio Guterres says new and old wars have made the world much more dangerous and created a staggering escalation in...
EU,Europe,Migrants,The Latest
Friday, 20 November 2015 04:08 PM
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