The Latest: EU praises year-old migrant deal with Turkey

The Latest: EU praises year-old migrant deal with Turkey

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 20, 2017 at 7:40 a.m.

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ROME (AP) — The Latest on migration to Europe (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

The European Union is praising its migrant agreement with Turkey, one year after the deal officially entered force.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Monday that "the EU-Turkey statement was a game changer which allowed us to break the cruel business model of smugglers exploiting human misery and putting people's lives in danger."

Rights group Amnesty International says the deal is "a shameful stain on the collective conscience of Europe" that has led to "the suffering of thousands of refugees and migrants."

The International Rescue Committee says it is "eroding the rights" of refugees, exposing them to abuse.

Schinas shrugged off the criticism, saying that despite the many complaints no one has come up with "viable alternatives that would have saved as many lives."


2 p.m.

The European Union's executive arm is giving Italy 12.2 million euros ($13.1 million) to help boost border surveillance and rescue migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

The European Commission said Monday the new funds mean that it has now provided Italy with 75 million euros in emergency funding.

The government in Rome already receives more than 592 million euros in EU money to help provide asylum to refugees and better integrate them into the country.


11:55 a.m.

Hungary's defense minister has inaugurated a small military base on the country's southern border to prevent the entry of migrants.

Defense Minister Istvan Simicsko said Monday that the troops were working to defend the borders "so hundreds of thousands won't march across the country" as in 2015.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week that a new fence being built on the Serbian border equipped with surveillance tools can block even large numbers of migrants "so in Austria and Germany people can sleep soundly, because Hungarians will be protecting Europe's external borders."

Hungary first built fences on the borders with Serbia and Croatia in late 2015.

The base, built from 90 containers at Hercegszanto, 220 kilometers (about 140 miles) south of Budapest, will house 150 troops.


10:25 a.m.

Italy is hosting a European-North African migration summit aimed at helping implement a new accord with Libya to better patrol its coasts and stop smugglers from setting off with their human cargo.

The interior ministers' conference was underway Monday as rescue ships brought to Italy's southern shores some of the estimated 3,000 migrants rescued over the weekend on the Mediterranean.

Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti invited counterparts from several European countries that border Italy — France, Slovenia, Switzerland and Austria — as well as Germany and Malta. Those countries have a stake in the accord since many migrants who arrive in Italy pass through its northern borders for destinations further north.

Also attending were representatives of Tunisia and Algeria, as well as the internationally recognized Libyan leader, Premier Fayez Serraj.

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