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LIVE BLOG: Refugee crisis in Europe

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LIVE BLOG: Refugee crisis in Europe
MEE brings you the latest news as the refugee crisis in Europe reaches a fever pitch
  • 4 suspects arrested in connection to trafficking, drowning of 12 Syrian migrants, including Aylan Kurdi
  • Migrants and refugees pulled of Austria-bound train near Serbian border; police try to put passengers in buses to go to refugee camps
  • Conservative MPs urge UK government to resettle more refugees in country 
  • Drowned child who became face of migrant crisis identified as Aylan Kurdi, allegedly from Kobane in Syria
  • More than 200,000 people sign petition in UK calling for country to accept more refugees

Live Updates

Canada denies turning away Aylan Kurdi's family
3 years ago

Canada on Thursday denied it had received an asylum request from the family of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee child who has become a symbol of Europe's migrant crisis after his little body washed up on a Turkish beach.

Relatives said the Canadian immigration department rejected their application in June, forcing them to leave Turkey on a smugglers’ boat that sank, drowning three-year-old Aylan with his mother, brother and at least nine other refugees.

But the Kurdi family’s story was denied by the immigration ministry - and by the boy's aunt, the source of the media report, who has since clarified her comments.

"There was no record of an application received for Mr. Abdullah Kurdi (the toddler's father) and his family," said a ministry statement. It said an application had been received for Abdullah's brother Mohammed, but "was returned as it was incomplete".

"Canada did not offer citizenship to Mr. Abdullah Kurdi," which was also reported, the ministry said.

US under pressure to accept more Syrian refugees
3 years ago

As the world watches drowned refugees wash up on Europe's beaches, the United States is also under pressure to do more to help the desperate victims of Syria's civil war.

Since fighting erupted in 2011 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended 17,000 Syrians for resettlement in the United States. By the end of this month, it will have accepted around 1,800.

Washington has promised to do more if it can, but Syrian refugees - even those screened and approved by the UNHCR in crowded camps - are subject to stringent, and lengthy, US security checks.

Larry Yungk, senior resettlement officer with UNHCR, said the United States was working hard to interview and process Syrian refugees but the resettlement process is not fast.

"In recent years additional security measures mean resettlement that once took 9 to 12 months, now typically takes 18 months or longer," he told AFP.

Police pepper spray refugees attempting to enter Hungary
3 years ago

Video emerged on Thursday of police officers pepper spraying a group of Syrian refugees attempting to cross into Hungary from Serbia in the night on 30 August.

After a group of migrants - men, women and young children - pleaded with the guards to let them pass, they began to walk towards the barbed wire fence at the border, a New York Times video shows.

A woman and her 18-month-old child then led the way as the group headed towards the fence. When they came within inches of the border police, they were sprayed in the eyes.

Chaos ensued, and the refugees coughed and screamed in pain as they ran back to the Serbian side of the border.

“My little love can’t open his eyes,” the mother of the 18-month-old told the Times reporters at the scene. “He gestured for me to come before he sprayed me and my baby, the low-life."

Later, the police got into a car and drove away. Then the refugees headed back towards the border fence.

Hungarian police have not responded to the Times' request for comment.

Britain's David Cameron vows to take in more Syrian refugees
3 years ago

Prime Minister David Cameron gave in to pressure at home and abroad on Thursday and promised to fulfil Britain's "moral responsibilities" to accept a bigger share of Syrian refugees.

Cameron said he had been "deeply moved" by images of three-year-old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, who was found dead on a Turkish beach, but he stopped short of making any new commitments.

"We do care," Cameron told reporters.

He said Britain would keep the number of refugees it accepts "under review" although he added: "There isn't a solution that's simply about taking people, it's got to be a comprehensive solution".

According to the Guardian newspaper, Cameron is prepared to accept thousands Syrians living in refugee camps on the border with their country, not the ones that have made it to Europe.

"Cameron remains convinced that accepting large number of Syrian refugees who are already in Europe will make the crisis worse and encourage more chaos," the Guardian stated.

The numbers of Syrian refugees, funding, and their planned location are still being debated on by the government, the newspaper added.

Cameron's announcement comes as a direct contrast to chancellor George Osbourne's comments earlier in the day, who blamed the Islamic State for killing Aylan Kurdi.

“We know there is not a simple answer to this crisis," he said. "What you need to do is first of all tackle ISIS [Islamic State] and the criminal gangs who killed that boy.”

Britain has accepted 216 Syrian refugees under a special government scheme over the past year and around 5,000 Syrians have been granted asylum since the conflict there broke out in 201-far fewer than countries like France, Germany and Sweden.

A petition to parliament urging Britain to accept more refugees has garnered nearly 250,000 signatures, while campaign group Avaaz said that  2,000 Britons had volunteered to host refugee families.

Jeremy Corbyn calls for more humanitarianism in refugee debate
3 years ago

UK Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn has called for people to change how they are talking about Europe's refugee crisis.

Speaking at a hustings hosted by Sky on Thursday evening, the Islington North MP emphasised the scale of the problem.

"Look at the legacy of the Iraq war, of the refugee flows all across the region, more displaced people than at any time in human recorded history," he said.

"There’s a human crisis in North Africa, there’s a human crisis of people dying in the Mediterranean, there’s a human crisis of people now in Hungary trying to get on a train in order to get to a place of safety.

Can we have less of this language about swarms and insects and a bit more language about humanitarianism?"


The UK has been castigated for having taken in fewer than 200 Syrian refugees, in a conflict that has displaced more than 6.5 million people out of a population of 22 million. 

English football teams to raise 'Refugees Welcome' banners at home games
3 years ago

Inspired by support and offers of practical help from fans across Germany in recent weeks, Aston Villa and Swindon Town fans became the first in England to say they planned to hold aloft such banners amid attempts to coordinate support via social media.

The organisers of a campaign on Facebook and Twitter (@RefugeesEFL) said they had been directly inspired by the images in Germany.
 
“The German fans using “Refugees Welcome” banners was a big inspiration,” said Deena Nakeeb, who is organising the Facebook campaign. “It’s not just the imagery behind manly blokes holding banners supporting an issue which is so poignant at the moment, it’s the fact we as the British public are showing solidarity.”