ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s migrant crisis (all times local):
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she expects many of the refugees who have flooded into Germany from war-torn countries like Syria to eventually return home once the hostilities end.
Speaking Saturday to members of her Christian Democratic Party in the northeastern city of Neubrandenburg, Merkel said that many of the 1.1 million asylum seekers who entered Germany last year would return home, as was Germany’s experience with refugees from the Balkans did in the 1990s, the dpa news agency reported.
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She says “we expect that if there’s peace again in Syria, if IS is defeated in Iraq, then they will return to their homelands with the knowledge they have gained here.”
Police in the port of Dover on the English Channel say there were arrests and injuries connected to a protest organized by far-right groups opposed to immigration into Britain.
The demonstration by the National Front and the South East Alliance was met with a counter-rally organized by two groups of opponents: Dover Stand Up to Racism and the Kent Anti-Racism Network.
A strong police deployment largely kept the peace but there was pushing and shoving throughout the day. Some bricks and smoke bombs were thrown.
Kent Police said a total of nine people were arrested, including one at an incident at a highway service station that was believed to be linked to the protests.
More than 20 weapons were recovered, including a knife, brass knuckles and pieces of wood, glass, hammers and bricks, police said.
One person suffered a broken arm and five others sustained minor injuries at the rallies. In addition, six other people suffered “non life threatening” injuries at the service station incident.
German media are reporting the country’s intelligence agencies enlisted the help of 850 asylum seekers as informants for more than a decade.
Der Spiegel and the dpa news agency reported Saturday that the asylum seekers were used to provide information between 2000 and 2013 to the domestic intelligence agency known as the BfV and the foreign spy service BND. Both cited a report to Parliament presented in response to an official query by the opposition Left Party.
Left Party member Martina Renner suggested to dpa that the asylum seekers might have informed in an attempt to help their own cases, likening the now-ended practice to extortion and saying it is “fully unacceptable in a democracy.” She says the value of any information obtained would have been questionable.
Activists opposed to overcrowded conditions at a migrant detention center in the Spanish city of Barcelona are holding a rally calling on authorities to dismantle the facility.
More than 1,000 protesters marched Saturday to the prison-like center situated between the city’s port and international airport and delivered speeches calling for the permanent closure of the fenced-in compound, one of nine currently used in Spain.
The “Close the Immigrant Detention Center” movement that organized the protest said in a statement that Barcelona should be “a city without borders that guarantees freedom of movement for all people,” without what it called “prisons, raids or deportations.”
Those detained are part of a migration wave from Africa to Europe, with thousands risking their lives in the quest for a better life in Europe.
Paramilitary police on Turkey’s coast with Lesbos have begun to place victims in black body bags as their corpses wash ashore. Among the dead seen by journalists is a young boy.
The state-run Anadolu news agency says the death toll in Saturday’s latest migrant boat sinking has risen to 39. Officials at the government offices for Turkey’s Canakkale district say the death toll has risen above the previously announced figure of 33, but are declining to offer a new specific figure as coast guard vessels and diving units continue to search the sea.
Photographers at the scene say police have taken some survivors to a local hospital for treatment for hypothermia and other injuries, other survivors into detention for questioning.
Chancellor Angela Merkel says new measures being adopted by her government should help slow the flow of migrants into Germany, but that a European-wide solution is still needed.
Merkel told CDU party members at a meeting in the northeastern city of Neubrandenburg on Saturday that such a solution must include the reliable protection of the European Union’s external borders and a fair distribution of asylum seekers among its member states, the dpa news agency reported.
She rejected calls by some to restrict Europe’s so-called Schengen area of passport-free travel, saying “the price for a country to fully seal itself off, if that’s even possible, would mean a decline in the economic dynamic for a nation like Germany.”
Merkel’s coalition reached a deal Thursday to streamline handling the migrant influx.
A Turkish government official says rescue workers are trying to reach a submerged migrant-packed boat that sank Saturday shortly after it departed for Greece — but he expects the death toll of 33 to rise.
Saim Eskioglu, deputy governor for Turkey’s Canakkale province, says the 17-meter (56-foot) vessel carrying more than 100 people “hit rocks soon after it left the coast and, unfortunately, it sank.” The Canakkale coast lies barely 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of the Greek island of Lesbos.
“We believe there are more dead bodies inside the boat,” he told CNN-Turk television.
Coast guard officials earlier reported 75 people were rescued.
Swedish police say a group of masked men have been questioned after they distributed anti-migrant leaflets in the center of the capital, Stockholm.
Police spokeswoman Towe Hagg says officers detained four men Friday night after leaflets urging Swedish citizens to organize illegal protests against suspected refugees were handed out.
She says one man was charged with assaulting a police officer, while the others were charged with being masked in public — illegal in Sweden — and with causing a public disturbance. All risk fines.
Sweden, one of the top destinations for asylum-seekers in Europe, received a record 160,000 arrivals last year. The country has experienced a sharp drop in newcomers since photo ID checks were introduced this month.
Turkish coast guards say 33 migrants have drowned while trying to cross the Aegean Sea and reach the Greek island of Lesbos, one of the most popular gateways for entry into the European Union.
In a statement the coast guard says nine victims were trapped inside the capsized craft as patrol boats collected 75 survivors and continued to search the waves for others.
A private Turkish news agency, Dogan, says police have arrested a Turkish man suspected of being the smuggler who organized Saturday’s disastrous sea crossing.
Turkey’s state-run news agency says at least 33 people, including five children, have drowned in the Aegean Sea after their Greece-bound boat capsized off the Turkish coast.
Anadolu Agency says coast guards rescued 75 others from the sea Saturday near the resort of Ayvacik en route to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The agency has identified the survivors as natives of Afghanistan, Syria and Myanmar.
The International Organization for Migration says 218 people have died this year while trying to cross by sea from Turkey to Greece.
Turkey is hosting an estimated 2.5 million refugees from Syria.
In November, Turkey agreed to fight smuggling networks and stem the flow of migrants into Europe. In return, the EU has pledged 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) to help improve the refugees’ conditions.