The Latest: Serbia urges migrants to get out of frigid cold
Posted January 11
BERLIN — The Latest on Europe's migration influx (all times local):
Serbia's authorities are urging all migrants to move to the Balkan country's asylum centers during the cold spell that has gripped the country bringing heavy snow and extremely low temperatures.
Hundreds of migrants have remained in makeshift shelters for the past several days braving polar conditions with temperatures way below zero even during the day. They have occupied an abandoned warehouse and train wagons in central Belgrade, the Serbian capital.
The Serbian government's refugee agency says that around 400 people have agreed to move away from the streets since the weather worsened last week. The statement says that no women and children are sleeping rough in parks or unofficial shelters.
Many migrants are reluctant to seek official help, fearing they wouldn't be able to move on toward Western Europe.
Greece's navy has sent a tank landing ship to the island of Lesbos to house refugees and migrants during a cold snap that has triggered public health warnings.
The vessel has docked and is due to provide accommodation for about 500 migrants.
A medical association on Lesbos said Tuesday that conditions at the main camp there were "inhuman" with migrants in tents exposed to freezing temperatures.
Schools have been closed on Lesbos because of the bad weather, as a state of emergency was expanded to other areas in northern Greece, where snow has blocked roads and caused power and water outages.
Germany's Interior Ministry says that about 280,000 new asylum-seekers arrived in the country last year — far below the influx of 890,000 in 2015.
Arrivals declined sharply with the closure of the Balkan migrant route in March and the subsequent agreement between the European Union and Turkey to stem the flow across the Aegean Sea to Greece.
Asylum applications have lagged well behind arrivals and many people who came to Germany in 2015 applied only last year.
The figures released Wednesday showed that 745,545 formal asylum applications were made last year — 268,869 more than in 2015.