Asylum-seekers jump barriers at Slovenia’s border with Austria



A Slovenian policeman attempts to control migrants as they queue to enter Austria in, Sentilj, Slovenia, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. (AP / Darko Bandic)

LESBOS, Greece — The latest in the odyssey of hundreds of thousands of people trekking across Europe in search of a new life: All times local.


7:10 p.m.

Hundreds of asylum seekers, some holding children in their arms, have pushed their way over metal barriers at the Sentilj camp on Slovenia’s border with Austria after waiting for hours in cold weather to cross.

Up to 1,000 people who had been crammed between the barriers set up by Slovenian and Austrian police pushed forward Thursday, jumping over and trampling on one another.

The unrest calmed down after the police let several hundred people cross toward Austria. Witnesses say they saw some people lying on stretchers.

Earlier Thursday, a fight broke out between migrants at the same camp reflecting fraying tempers among the thousands of refugees lining up.

The process has been very slow, with people arriving in large numbers and authorities on both sides only allowing small groups to cross at a time.


6:50 p.m.

Greece’s foreign minister is pressing for the creation of registration centres in Turkey from which European countries could directly take in refugees, sparing them the dangerous sea crossing to Greece.

But Nikos Kotzias conceded Thursday that this would create “difficulties” for European Union members that have so far resisted significant participation in the EU’s relocation program for about 160,000 people.

Speaking at a press conference in Athens with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Kotzias also called for a crackdown on the gangs that smuggle migrants to Greece.

He defended Greece’s handling of the migrant influx, saying the country has spent 2.8 billion euros (US$3 billion) so far on addressing it — which he said was about five times the pension cuts the country has agreed to carry out under its bailout program.


6:45 p.m.

French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says no migrant crossed the border from France to Britain since security was reinforced on Sunday.

Cazeneuve told lawmakers Thursday that around 1,100 police officers have been deployed in the tunnel area of the French port city of Calais.

He added that “hundreds” of asylum-seekers will be taken out of a slum-like camp in Calais on Friday. The camp is believed to have doubled in size in recent weeks to as many as 6,000 people.

Thousands of migrants and refugees have converged in Calais in the hope to sneak across the English Channel to Britain.


6 p.m.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence says the Royal Navy has rescued 541 people this week as they scoured the Mediterranean Sea in operations to counter refugee smugglers.

The HMS Enterprise, a survey vessel, rescued 439 migrants and HMS Richmond, a Type 23 frigate, rescued 102 migrants. The Ministry declined to say Thursday more precisely where the operations took place.

Military personnel cared for the migrants on the ships before transferring them to the Norwegian support ship Fiem Pilote.

Royal Navy ships in the Mediterranean have rescued almost 7,000 asylum-seekers since May.


5:45 p.m.

Berlin prosecutors say 32-year-old German man arrested in the disappearance of a 4-year-old Bosnian boy has confessed to killing the child.

Prosecutor Michael von Hagen told reporters Thursday that the man, whose identity wasn’t released, was turned in by his mother after she recognized him in video released by police.

Police were interviewing the mother at her home when the suspect showed up there Thursday morning and confessed, telling police he had the child’s body in the car.

Von Hagen says an autopsy is still being performed but it appears the boy was not “killed today or yesterday.” He says there’s no evidence the suspect had any xenophobic motive or any links to far-right groups.


4:45 p.m.

A fight has broken out among migrants at the overcrowded Sentilj refugee camp on Slovenia’s border with Austria.

The scuffle Thursday reflects fraying tempers among the thousands of refugees queuing for hours in cold weather.

Slovenian police stepped in, pulling out a man who allegedly tried to cut a line of people waiting to cross into Austria. The process has been very slow, with people arriving in large numbers and authorities on both sides only allowing small groups to cross at a time.

Slovenian camp authorities used loudspeakers mounted on armoured police vehicles to tell the crowd “Don’t push! Wait for instructions from the soldiers!”


4:10 p.m.

Mohammed Mahouk holds a Swedish passport and yet he is treading the refugee route into Europe alongside tens of thousands of asylum-seekers for the second time in less than a month.

Mahouk says he didn’t want to let his big family travel on their own from the bombed-out Syrian town of Aleppo to Sweden, where he has lived for the past ten years.

The 31-year-old car mechanic says he first accompanied his brother, sister and her son along the route before flying back three weeks ago to guide another 17 relatives — seven children and ten grown-ups.

His Swedish passport safely tucked away, Mahouk has travelled as a refugee so he wouldn’t have to separate from the rest of the family. It has taken them 22 days from Aleppo to Slovenia’s border with Austria.

Mahouk says Aleppo is “the worst place in Syria now. No food, no water, no electricity, nothing.”


3:50 p.m.

The Greek Coast Guard says one more body — that of a boy — has been found from the boat that capsized off the island of Lesbos, bringing the death toll in that tragedy to eight.

Rescue workers on Thursday are still searching for about 30 others still missing in the capsizing Wednesday. They saved 242 people from the boat.

Lesbos has borne the brunt of Europe’s refugee crisis, with more than 300,000 reaching the island this year and the number of daily arrivals recently peaking at 7,500.


3 p.m.

Hungary’s foreign minister says the European Union needs to wrest back control of its borders, dismissing as “hypocritical” criticism of his country’s construction of a border fence to tame the flow of refugees.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Thursday after talks with his Cypriot counterpart that Hungary built the fence with Serbia to comply with EU rules on the movement of people and goods. He said this must happen through official border crossings during specific opening hours and the only choice was to build a “physical obstacle.”

Szijjarto also said fellow EU foreign ministers couldn’t offer an alternative when challenged, adding “this kind of hypocritical behaviour should be forgotten in Europe.”


2:45 p.m.

A top UN health official says refugees sleeping outdoors or in cold shelters “are more prone to suffer from hypothermia, frostbite” and other health problems.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, head of European branch of the World Health Organization, said refugees should be given heated shelters, warm meals and proper clothing but also influenza vaccines. In a statement Thursday she urged health authorities in Europe to make sure to detect and treat the migrants’ cold-related diseases as winter approaches.

WHO’s European Region, based in Copenhagen, encompasses 53 countries, including former Soviet republics.


2:25 p.m.

Berlin police say they have arrested a suspect in the disappearance earlier this month of a 4-year-old Bosnian migrant boy, and have found the body of a child in the suspect’s car.

Police said the 32-year-old man, who wasn’t identified, was arrested Thursday morning. Police said they are still trying to confirm the identity of the dead child and an autopsy will be conducted later in the day.

The suspect was being questioned.

Authorities had released a video showing 4-year-old Mohamed Januzi leaving the central registration centre for migrants in Berlin with an unidentified man on Oct. 1.


2:20 p.m.

Hungary’s foreign minister says the international community must significantly ramp up its fight against the Islamic State group in order to stem the flow of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and heading to Europe.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says “the less successful we are in combatting terrorism, the more migrants will come to Europe and the bigger challenge we will face.”

Szijjarto said Thursday the 28-nation European Union must put together a “European force” to help Greece protect its vast sea borders with Turkey, from which thousands of people cross daily into Europe.

He said the EU must also give more financial help to Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey so they can better take care of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees they are hosting.


2:05 p.m.

Swedish police say firefighters have extinguished another small fire in a house for unaccompanied refugee children.

Police say an “inflammable liquid was poured in through a window” of the house early Thursday and are calling the blaze arson. No one was injured.

In recent weeks, Sweden has seen a spate of arson attacks on asylum centres or buildings as an influx of refugees has surged. Swedish immigration officials estimate up to 190,000 asylum-seekers will arrive this year.

Sweden’s national police said they are co-ordinating the arson investigations and will use helicopters with infrared cameras in an attempt to find suspects.

In neighbouring Norway, immigration authorities were considering whether to follow Sweden’s decision and longer publicize the location of refugee facilities.


1:45 p.m.

Greek authorities have raised to seven the number of dead from a boat that capsized off the eastern island of Lesbos and are still looking for more than 30 others.

The coast guard said the bodies of two children, a man and a woman were recovered from the sea Thursday. The accident occurred in stormy weather Wednesday. Coast guards and local fishermen managed to rescue 242 people.

Nearly 1,000 people were rescued in 20 separate incidents off the eastern Aegean over the past two days, the Greek coast guard said.

But at least 11 — mostly children — drown in separate incidents Wednesday, as thousands of refugees keep heading to the Greek islands from Turkey.


1:30 p.m.

Slovenian police say more than 100,000 refugees have entered the country in less than two weeks.

Police say more than 5,000 came in Thursday morning, bringing the total number since Oct. 16 to 102,757.

Asylum-seekers hoping to reach Western Europe turned to crossing Slovenia after Hungary closed its border with Croatia with a barbed-wire fence.

Slovenia has warned it could also put up a fence along its border with Croatia. The small nation of 2 million has repeatedly said it cannot not cope with the mass influx.


1:20 p.m.

Greece’s Merchant Marine Ministry says the bodies of four more refugees trying to reach Europe have been found off the Greek island of Lesbos.

Authorities on Lesbos say the death toll has now risen to seven after a wooden boat carrying migrants sank en route from Turkey to Greece.

At least 30 others are still believed to be missing in the capsizing. Another 242 people were saved in a dramatic rescue Thursday night.


11:45 a.m.

A Swedish mayor says a standoff continues with 14 asylum-seekers who are refusing to move into fully equipped chalets in a remote and cold part of Sweden where they have been told to stay while their asylum applications are processed.

Kurt Podgorski says the chalets, made for winter sports tourists, in the middle of woods several kilometres (miles) from the nearest town, “maybe is in stark contrast with what they left.”

Podgorski said Thursday temperatures in Lima, a mountainous forest in northern Sweden close to Norway, currently are above freezing.

Some of the Syrian and Iraqi asylum-seekers have since Sunday occupied the bus that brought them there, saying Lima is not suitable for them because they have a pregnant woman and children.

Podgorski added police might intervene to help the bus company get its vehicle back.


9:40 a.m.

Authorities on the Greek island of Lesbos say 38 people are believed still missing after a wooden boat carrying migrants sank. Three people are known to have died.

At first light Thursday, a helicopter from the European border protection agency Frontex joined the search by Greek coast guard vessels off the northern coast of the island, hours after the dramatic rescue of 242 people.

At least 11 people — mostly children — died in five separate incidents in the eastern Aegean Sea on Wednesday, as thousands of people continued to head to the Greek islands from Turkey in frail boats and stormy weather.

Lesbos has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis in Greece, with more than 300,000 reaching the island this year — and the number of daily arrivals recently peaking at 7,500.

In a dramatic scene late Wednesday, dozens of paramedics and volunteers helped in the effort to assist the survivors, wrapping them in foil blankets and prioritizing ambulance transport.

Eighteen children were hospitalized, three in serious condition, local authorities said.