The Latest: Boat that took on migrants pointed to Tunisia

The Latest: Boat that took on migrants pointed to Tunisia

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GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

Four humanitarian groups say a commercial boat carrying 40 migrants who had been stranded in the Mediterranean Sea has been waiting to get a green light to dock in the Tunisian port of Zarzis for more than 48 hours.

The groups, most of them based in Tunisia, said Thursday that Tunisian authorities were deciding whether to grant the boat entry after Italy, Malta and France refused to let it dock. Tunisian authorities couldn't immediately be reached to provide its stance.

The migrants, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa or Egypt, reportedly were at sea for five days before a Maltese ship picked them up and then transferred them Monday to the Tunisian-flagged Sarost 5.

The humanitarian groups called on the Tunisian government to abide by international law and accept the migrants. The Maltese government refuted claims it had broken maritime rules by directing the migrants to Tunisia, the nearest port.


2:45 p.m.

Greek police say a search and rescue operation is underway in the Evros River on the Greek-Turkish border for a woman and three young boys reported missing after the boat they were using to cross the border capsized.

Police said Thursday that three men, a woman and a child had been found alive on the bank of the Greek side of the river.

The survivors, who include the husband of the missing woman, said their boat overturned as they attempted to cross the river at night, and that the woman and three children, all under six years old, didn't make it to the river bank.

Police said all survivors were Turks.

The Evros River which flows along the border is frequently used by migrants and refugees crossing from Turkey.


1:20 p.m.

The European Union's executive body says it is referring Hungary to the Court of Justice of the EU because of its failure to comply with EU asylum rules.

The European Commission said Thursday that it is also opening up a new infringement procedure against Hungary because of recently approved legislation criminalizing the support of asylum-seekers by civic groups.

In the first case, which has been ongoing since December 2015, the Commission said it was turning to the courts, the last stage of the procedure, because it considered that "the majority of the concerns raised have still not been addressed." Among other points, the EU considers Hungary's asylum procedures too restrictive, with reception conditions for asylum-seekers also seen breaching EU rules.

Under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has introduced very strict anti-migration and anti-refugee laws.


12:55 p.m.

Turkey's state-run news agency says authorities are questioning dozens of survivors as part of an investigation into the sinking of a migrant boat off the northern coast of Cyprus that left 19 confirmed dead and an estimated 25 other passengers missing.

The boat, loaded with as many as 150 people, capsized around 16 miles (26 kilometers) north of Cyprus' Karpas Peninsula on Wednesday. The Turkish coast guard rescued 103 people and took them to Turkey where they were given temporary shelter at a school dormitory in the coastal province of Mersin.

As the search for the missing continued, 53 of the migrants — an Iraqi and 52 Syrians — were being questioned on Thursday as part of a probe launched by a regional prosecutor, Anadolu Agency reported.

Ten of the survivors, including a child, remain hospitalized, the agency reported.


11:35 a.m.

The Red Cross is warning about reports of violence by border guards in Croatia against migrants attempting to enter from neighboring Bosnia.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says dozens of people who tried to cross the border are being treated daily for injuries.

IFRC regional director for Europe Simon Missiri said governments must ensure "dignity and respect" for all people: "A desire to control one's border does not justify violence."

IFRC says more than 8,000 people have entered Bosnia this year, an eightfold increase from 2017, including some 3,000 in the past four weeks. Many are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran or Syria.

Spokeswoman Nicole Robicheau said Thursday that some recounted being "beaten at the hands of the Croatian border guards," but IFRC couldn't verify the accounts.

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