PRAGUE — The Latest on Europe’s migration crisis (all times local):
Italy’s coast guard says a total of 15 bodies have been recovered over the course of 23 different rescue operations involving migrant boats.
The coast guard said in a statement Monday that a total of 2,700 would-be refugees were rescued from 19 rubber boats and four small vessels.
There was a significant increase in migrant rescues off the Libyan coast last week, with between 3,000-6,900 people rescued daily in the first half of the week, according to the International Organization of Migration.
Hungary’s prime minister has warned of a possible surge in migrant arrivals this fall and offered to help neighboring Serbia protect its borders against illegal entries.
Viktor Orban said Monday in Belgrade that an agreement between the European Union and Turkey on stopping the influx into Europe, remains “fragile.” He says it is in Hungary’s interest to help prevent a pileup of migrants in Serbia.
Hungary last year built a razor wire fence along its borders with Serbia and Croatia to stop migrants from entering and Orban has recently announced plans to build another one to fortify the border. Serbia too has beefed up its border patrols with Macedonia and Bulgaria where migrants mostly enter the country.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic says there are currently some 5,000 migrants in Serbia.
Authorities say hundreds of people have been rescued and at least six bodies recovered during rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
In a tweet Monday, Italy’s navy said nearly 500 migrants had been rescued by ships participating in the EU-backed Mediterranean mission. Six bodies were also recovered, the navy said.
The Malta-based group MOAS, which has been assisting in the rescues, said a total of seven bodies were recovered.
Last week saw a significant increase in migrant rescues off the Libyan coast, with between 3,000-6,900 people rescued daily in the first half of the week, according to the International Organization of Migration.
A year after the European Union launched its refugee sharing plan so member countries could help overwhelmed Greece and Italy less than five percent of the migrants have been relocated.
European Commission figures show that only 4,473 asylum seekers were relocated as of Sept. 1.
The plan is a cornerstone of the EU’s strategy to deal with more than one million people who entered Europe last year in search of sanctuary or jobs. It commits countries to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece, Italy or any other member state deemed unable to cope by September 2017.
EU Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said Monday that, despite the slow pace, “what we are doing is not insignificant.”
The Commission polices EU agreements and can take action to ensure they are respected.
Czech President Milos Zeman says his country and the entire European Union should help Bulgaria guard its border with Turkey in efforts to stop migrants.
Bulgaria is an EU member but is not part of the EU visa-free Schengen zone. Some refugees have traveled through its territory on their way to rich western European states.
The influx of refugees to Greece and also Bulgaria was significantly reduced after a recent deal between Turkey and the EU.
After meeting his Bulgarian counterpart, Rosen Plevneliev, on Monday, Zeman said details of the Czech deployment in Bulgaria are already being worked out.
The Czechs sent 50 police officers to Hungary to help guard the border with Serbia on Monday and previously also deployed dozens of officers in Greece, Slovenia and Macedonia.