The Latest: Poland will take 7,000 refugees, sets conditions


PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the flow of refugees and other migrants into Europe (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

Poland’s foreign minister says the government stands by its commitment to take in 7,000 refugees, on condition they are checked for security and are willing to settle in Poland.

Poland had previously agreed on that number, but following the attacks in Brussels last week Prime Minster Beata Szydlo said she saw “no possibility” of accepting any migrants. The words were understood as reneging on the refugees deal.

But Witold Waszczykowski said on TVP INFO late Tuesday that Poland will be ready to “review the applications” of those refugees whose identities are confirmed, who are declared as posing no security threat and who are willing to come to Poland. He expressed doubt as to whether 7,000 such refugees could be found.

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2:45 p.m.

Austria’s government plans to further tighten rules on those seeking asylum in the country as of mid-May.

The move, announced Wednesday, places additional limits on who qualifies for safe haven after restrictions introduced earlier this year as Austria and its eastern neighbors shut down the West Balkans migrant route.

Austria currently processes every request for asylum. Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says that under the new rules, applications will be accepted only from “those that we have to” — for instance in cases where a person faces threats to safety in a neighboring country that he or she transited.

Austria has set a limit of 37,500 asylum applications for the year, after receiving nearly 90,000 in 2015. Mikl-Leitner says 14,000 were submitted as of the end of March.

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2:20 p.m.

The Czech government has agreed to donate 20.4 million euros ($22.8 million) to Turkey as part of a European Union plan to help the country deal with the influx of migrants.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek says the money will be gradually given to Turkey from now until 2019, starting with 6 million euros ($6.72 million) this year. He says Wednesday the money should help Turkey “to stop the flow of migrants” and that Turkish efforts will be closely monitored.

More than 1 million refugees entered Europe last year, most of them flowing in from Turkey across Greece’s porous Aegean Sea border.

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10:50 a.m.

Hundreds of migrants and refugees have arrived on Greek islands after days of low numbers, despite a European Union-Turkey agreement under which new arrivals will be sent back to Turkey.

Figures released by the Greek government Wednesday showed 766 people reached the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios and Kos in the 24 hours until Wednesday morning. The number is a roughly a three-fold jump compared with arrivals in previous days, when weather conditions had been poorer.

The increase comes a day after the EU noted the number of arrivals had dropped sharply over the previous week.

Under an EU-Turkey agreement, Ankara is supposed to stop migrants reaching Europe and take back all people from Greece who do not qualify for asylum.

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10:15 a.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging governments around the globe to let in more people from Syria and “counter fear-mongering” about refugees.

Ban spoke at a one-day conference in Geneva Wednesday meant to further efforts to resettle Syrian refugees. The U.N. refugee agency wants to find places abroad for one-tenth of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees crowded into countries in the surrounding region over three years. To date, 179,000 places have been pledged.

Ban urged countries to “act with solidarity, in the name of our shared humanity, by pledging new and additional pathways for the admission of Syrian refugees.” He said that those “can include resettlement or humanitarian admission, family reunions, as well as labor or study opportunities.”

He said: “when managed properly, accepting refugees is a win for everyone.”

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10:05 a.m.

The Turkish coast guard says it has rescued dozens of mostly Syrian migrants as they tried to reach Greece.

Seventy Syrian migrants, two Palestinian nationals, one Somali and one Yemeni were spotted Sunday in an inflatable dinghy off the coast of Turkey’s western province of Izmir — a few kilometers across the Aegean Sea from Greece. A Turkish-flagged warship supported the operation, the coast guard reported Tuesday.

The move comes before the scheduled implementation date of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union aimed at curbing the flow of migrants to Europe.

The deal, due to come into effect on April 4, stipulates that those who arrive on Greek islands from the Turkish coast will be detained and sent back.

For every Syrian returned, another Syrian in Turkey will be relocated to a European country.

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9:30 a.m.

Police have evacuated a few hundred migrants from a makeshift camp near a subway station in northeastern Paris.

The Paris regional administration said the operation Wednesday was peaceful and authorities are relocating the migrants, who had been living beneath elevated train tracks for the past several weeks.

The Paris transit authority closed the Stalingrad metro station during the operation. The area has seen multiple migrant camps in recent years that are periodically cleared out.

French media reported the residents were primarily from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan and Afghanistan.

France has not seen nearly as many Syrian refugees or other migrants over the past year as Germany or countries farther east, but has experienced tensions around the northern port of Calais, where migrants converge in hopes of crossing to Britain.