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Tags: EU | Europe Migrants | The Latest

The Latest: Czech Police, Army to Drill Response to Migrants

The Latest: Czech Police, Army to Drill Response to Migrants

Friday, 18 September 2015 05:15 AM EDT

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The latest developments as European governments rush to cope with the huge number of people moving across Europe. All times local (CET):

11:10 a.m.

Czech police and military will conduct a joint drill to be ready to deal with a possible increased numbers of migrants.

The drill will be conducted along the country's borders and will include hundreds of service members with planes and helicopters.

Interior Minister Milan Cjovanec says its goal is "to test the ability of the forces to cooperate in crisis situations."

Friday's announcement comes three days after Prime Minster Bohuslav Sobotka said his government is ready to deploy the armed forces to protect the country's borders against migrants.

Czech police already boosted its presence on the Austrian-Czech border on Sunday in response to Germany's decision to renew border controls along its border with Austria. But the Czechs haven't renewed border checks yet.

11:00 a.m.

Five German soccer clubs say they are boycotting a show of solidarity for refugees this weekend.

SC Freiburg, VfL Bochum, 1. FC Nuernberg and 1. FC Union Berlin said on their website that players won't be wearing special patches promoted by German daily Bild.

Bochum and Nuernberg said they are distancing themselves from the event because of the newspaper's criticism of another club's refusal to take part.

FC St. Pauli, whose fans are traditionally left-wing, said earlier this week that it has long supported refugees and didn't want to participate in Bild's event.

The initiative was announced earlier this week and involved players carrying a patch on their left arm saying "We're helping, (hashtag)refugeeswelcome."

10:50 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister says it may be necessary to force Eastern European countries to accept quotas for migrants.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier says in a newspaper interview published Friday that Germany, Austria, Sweden and Italy can't bear all the burden of migrants coming to Europe.

But some countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, have opposed consensus on the distribution of migrants according to pre-determined quotas.

Steinmeier told the Passauer Neue Presse daily that "if there is no other way we need to seriously consider using the instrument of a majority decision."

10:40 a.m.

Treading slowly through vast areas of cornfields, groups of migrants have been entering Croatia despite the move by authorities to shut down almost all official border crossings with neighboring Serbia.

Some 2,000 people have gathered in the eastern Croatian border town of Tovarnik waiting for bus or train rides to the refugee centers. One train with eleven carriages left Friday morning carrying hundreds to refugee centers in the capital Zagreb and elsewhere.

Those still in Tovarnik are sitting of lying on the ground. Some are sleeping, others standing in groups, chatting and discussing what to do next.

Croatian police have been taking the migrants to the asylum centers for registration, but most want to move on toward Western Europe. Hundreds of those fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have been converging near the train station in the capital, Zagreb.

9:50 a.m.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban says that his country has started building a razor-wire fence along a stretch of its border with Croatia to keep migrants from entering the country in that area.

Orban says the first phase of the 41-kilometer (25 mile) barrier will be completed on Friday, with coils of razor wire in place before an actual fence goes up.

He said on state radio that he is deploying hundreds of soldiers and police to the border to prepare the fence and defend the border.

Earlier this week Hungary sealed off its southern border with Serbia with a 4-meter (13-foot) high razor-wire fence and began arresting migrants who try to enter the country. Baton-wielding riot police also used tear gas and water cannons on migrants after a group tried to break through a gate on the Hungary-Serbia border.

Since then, some migrants have tried to enter Hungary through sections of the border with Croatia, while many others have opted to take a longer route through Croatia and Slovenia toward Western Europe.

9:40 a.m.

Croatian police say some 13,300 migrants have entered the country from Serbia since the first groups started arriving more than two days ago.

Croatia on Friday closed all border crossings with Serbia except one in an effort to control the flow which has strained authorities.

Despite the move, migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have been coming into Croatia through the corn fields. Most of them want to move on toward Germany or the Scandinavian countries.

The migrants have turned to Croatia for a corridor to Western Europe after Hungary used force to push them away from its territory.

8:30 a.m.

Croatian authorities say they have closed all border crossings with Serbia but one after straining to cope with 11,000 migrants and refugees who have entered the country after Hungary closed off its border.

Serbian officials, fearing that the closure would block thousands of migrants inside the country, protested Zagreb's move.

Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia's social affairs minister, said Serbia will take Croatia to international courts if the international border crossings remain closed.

Meanwhile, Slovenia has been returning migrants to Croatia and has stopped all rail traffic between the two countries.

Croatian authorities say the situation is worst in the eastern Croatian town of Beli Manastir, where thousands of refugees have converged and caught local authorities unprepared.

8:15 a.m.

Activists say conditions at a refugee registration center in the southeast German city of Passau became untenable overnight.

A volunteer who has helped migrants arriving in the Bavarian city says more than 2,000 people were crammed into two large halls, with no medics or interpreters on site.

Dagmar Haase told The Associated Press on Friday that she and other volunteers spent the night at the site handing out food to migrants.

A spokesman for Germany's federal police, which run the site, says some 4,000 migrants came across the border from Austria on Thursday.

Thomas Schweikl says that while medics aren't on-site at all times, ambulances can be called when necessary. He wasn't immediately able to comment on the number of refugees at the site overnight.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The latest developments as European governments rush to cope with the huge number of people moving across Europe. All times local (CET):11:10 a.m.Czech police and military will conduct a joint drill to be ready to deal with a possible increased numbers of migrants.The drill...
EU,Europe Migrants,The Latest
Friday, 18 September 2015 05:15 AM
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