31 Aug 2015

'Unprecedented' migration creates EU rift

4:46 pm on 31 August 2015

With the migrant crisis deepening in Europe, open hostility has erupted over the numbers of people accepted by different countries.

Migrants walk down a railroad towards Hungary near the northern Serbian town of Horgos.

Migrants on a rail line towards Hungary near the northern Serbian town of Horgos. Photo: AFP

Germany said it is taking a disproportionate share and France condemned EU members, mainly in Eastern Europe, for refusing to take in refugees.

The crisis is intensifying due to a surge in migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and some European governments have refused to take in refugees and resisted EU proposals for a common plan to deal with the growing emergency.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused eastern European states, in particular Hungary, of a scandalous policy towards refugees.

Hungary completed a 175 kilometre razor wire fence along its border with Serbia to contain what it calls a threat to European security, prosperity and identity - but refugees continue to pour into the country.

Mr Fabius said Hungary was not respecting Europe's common values so the European authorities need to have a serious discussion with its officials.

"Hungary does not fulfil the shared values of Europe, it is necessary that the European authorities have a serious discussion, and even a severe discussion with officials," he said.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto rejected the French criticism, saying people in Europe still did not understand the traumatic pressure his country was under.

He is demanding an explanation from the French Ambassador for the Mr Fabius' comments and said he was shocked at this attack on his government's policy.

Germany is calling on other European Union states to take in more refugees, saying it cannot go on absorbing a disproportionate share of the thousands of arriving asylum seekers.

Germany expects the number of asylum seekers it receives to quadruple to about 800,000 this year, with some politicians say the figure could go to a million.

The refugee influx is stretching Germany's social fabric, Reuters reports. The country has witnessed over 100 hundred arson attacks on asylum shelters. Last weekend, more than 30 police were injured in clashes in the eastern town of Heidenau, near Dresden, when a protest against a refugee shelter got out of hand.

On Saturday, about 5000 people marched peacefully in Dresden in a show of support for refugees.

Members of the Libyan Red Crescent move the body of a migrant washed ashore on a beach after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Zuwarah, Libya.

Members of the Libyan Red Crescent move the body of a migrant washed ashore on a beach after a boat carrying hundreds of migrants sank off the coast of Zuwarah, Libya. Photo: AFP

Emergency talks

Ministers from European Union countries are to meet in Luxembourg in two weeks for emergency talks to find ways to resolve the escalating migrant crisis.

Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU presidency, called interior ministers from all 28 member states to an extraordinary meeting on 14 September: "The situation of migration phenomena outside and inside the European Union has recently taken unprecedented proportions."

The interior ministers from Britain, France and Germany have called for migrants to be fingerprinted and registered when they arrive in Italy and Greece

Luxembourg said the meeting would focus on policies on sending some migrants home and measures to prevent human trafficking.

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