UK to Re-Settle up to 20,000 Syrian Refugees

Posted on September 7, 2015

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by Bradley Matthews, editing by Adam MS

[AP] The latest news as countries across Europe cope with the arrival of thousands of migrants and refugees. All times local (CET):

4:45 p.m.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the U.K. will re-settle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Syria over the next five years.

The figure represents a vast expansion of Britain’s refugee program, a change signaled by Cameron last week.

He told Parliament Monday that Britain has a moral responsibility to act, citing shocking images in recent days. Cameron said vulnerable children and orphans will be given priority.

New arrivals will be given five-year “humanitarian protection” visas upon arrival in Britain.

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UK21:30 p.m.

Two Italian navy ships have ferried to shore 60 bodies of migrants from the April shipwreck in which as many as 800 perished.

The navy says the corpses, transported Monday to Sicily, bring to 118 the number of bodies recovered using navy divers and robots.

Prosecutors who viewed film taken by divers of the boat’s interior say the images support testimony from the few survivors that some 800 people were aboard when the vessel capsized as rescuers approached, with hundreds trapped in the hold.

The body retrieval operation is in its third month.

Meanwhile, Italy’s coast guard was searching the waters between Libya and Sicily after 107 survivors rescued from an overcrowded dinghy told authorities some 20 persons fell overboard and their smugglers wouldn’t stop to pick them up.

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12:25 p.m.

Scuffles broke out early Monday between Macedonian police and thousands of refugees and migrants attempting to head north toward Europe.

About 2,000 people had gathered at the Greek border near the village of Idomeni just after dawn, attempting to cross into Macedonia. But Macedonian authorities were allowing only small groups to cross every half hour, leading to tension. The situation later calmed after more were allowed to cross, with about 1,000 having passed the border by mid-day.

Greek police said about 5,000 people had crossed the border heading north in the 24 hours from Sunday morning to Monday morning.

Scuffles at the border have become near-daily as an increasing wave of people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East and parts of Asia have headed to Greece from Turkey, aiming to cross the Balkans overland toward Austria, Germany and Scandinavia.

———UK311:55 a.m.

Greece’s migration minister says at least two-thirds of the estimated 15,000-18,000 refugees and economic migrants stranded in “miserable” conditions on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos will be ferried to the mainland in the next five days.

Giannis Mouzalas told state ERT1 TV extra ferries were laid on Monday to transport the migrants, while some ships will serve as temporary screening and reception centers.

Lesbos bears the brunt of the refugee influx, with more than 1,000 arriving daily on frail boats from nearby Turkey. Most remain stuck there for days, sleeping outdoors until they can be identified, and then find berths on crowded ferries to the mainland.

Greece’s caretaker government, appointed ahead of elections Sept. 20, has set the problem as its main priority, significantly improving its predecessors’ stumbling efforts to deal with the influx.

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