Germany beefs up asylum rules amid record influx
Germany toughened rules yesterday for asylum seekers from the Balkans as Europe struggled to cope with a record surge in migrants, with those crossing the Mediterranean exceeding the half a million mark.
Berlin added Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro to a list of so-called safe origin countries, which will result in swifter deportations for asylum seekers from those conflict-free states, in a bid to free up resources to deal with claims from citizens of war-torn countries like Syria.
Hungary's prime minister was preparing to defend his hard line at the UN General Assembly, as the number of migrants arriving via the Mediterranean reached nearly 515,000, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).
Highlighting the dangers, the Italian coastguard said late Monday that it had coordinated the rescue Monday of 1,151 migrants in 11 separate operations off the coast of Libya in north Africa.
The Libyan coastguard too reported that it rescued 346 migrants yesterday, almost 100 of them women and children, found adrift on rubber boats off the country's coast.
A 20-year-old Iraqi was found dead yesterday in a lorry near the French port of Calais, crushed by pallets as he tried to reach Britain.
From Greece, many of the migrants then travel up through the western Balkans and into EU member Hungary, bound for northern Europe, particularly Sweden and Germany.
Hungary, which has seen close to 300,000 migrants cross its borders this year, on September 15 sealed its border with Serbia, the main entry point to the European Union.
The move has diverted the flow of migrants to Croatia, overwhelming authorities there who have been transferring them back to its border with Hungary.
But Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has come in for major criticism in recent months, said last week that he also intended to seal his country's border with Croatia.
Orban said however that he plans first to consult UN chief Ban Ki-moon, whom he intends to meet in New York this week.