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The Latest: Austria, Slovenia in dispute over 9 migrants

Posted September 13

— The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Slovenia's state news agency says nine migrants who crossed into Austria illegally and then were returned to Slovenia have become the focus of a dispute between the two European Union neighbors.

STA said Tuesday that the group entered Austria on Sunday and were swiftly returned to Slovenia. Slovenian border guards tried to send them back to Austria on Monday, but Austrian authorities declined to take them.

The migrants have now been placed in a Slovenian refugee center near the border. STA says formal proceedings will be launched to return them to Austria.

Tens of thousands migrants and refugees fleeing wars and poverty have crossed the border between Slovenia and Austria before the so-called Balkan route that led from Greece through Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia was shut in March.


2:45 p.m.

A Romanian television station is reporting that two migrants, including a 5-year-old boy, have drowned and six are missing after their boat sank last week crossing the River Danube from Bulgaria to Romania.

Romanian television Digi24, reporting from Bulgaria on Tuesday, says the bodies were found in the Bulgarian waters of the Danube after their boat capsized on Thursday. Authorities are searching for six others in the river, which forms part of the border between Bulgaria and Romania.

The station reported that another four migrants were rescued and were taken to the Bulgarian capital, Sofia. The station said the migrants had come from Turkey and were trying to avoid Serbia, where border controls have been tightened up.

The station reported authorities found the body of a 5-year-old boy and a teenager on Sunday.

Border police in the Bulgarian port of Ruse didn't immediately respond to calls from The Associated Press. Romanian border police on the other side of the Danube declined to comment.


1:45 p.m.

A group of senior international diplomats has harshly criticized the European Union's deal with Turkey to send back migrants in return for financial aid, calling it a "bad example" to other countries.

The Elders, a global human rights group founded by the late Nelson Mandela, say the agreement between Brussels and Ankara "is morally dubious" and may be illegal under international law.

In a report published Tuesday, they say the deal "sets a troubling precedent" that other countries with bad human rights records may use to demand payment in return for preventing migrants from traveling to Europe.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the group was "raising the alarm" about the agreement and compared it to the way civil liberties had been curtailed around the world after the 9/11 attacks.


12:55 p.m.

Hungary's foreign minister rebuked his Luxembourg counterpart, who said that Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the European Union over its approach to refugees and other issues.

Peter Szijjarto said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn was "a frivolous figure."

Hungary is holding a government-sponsored referendum Oct. 2 seeking support for rejecting any future EU plan to resettle migrants among member states.

Szijjarto said the referendum would give Hungarians the opportunity to voice their opinion about "illegal immigrants, Brussels' quota package and the Jean Asselborn-type figures."


11 a.m.

Just 24 hours after his family was rescued from an overcrowded rubber boat, a baby boy has been born aboard a rescue vessel in the Mediterranean Sea.

Doctors Without Borders, one of the operators of the rescue ship Aquarius, said the boy was born to Nigerian parents in international waters Monday morning. He was named Newman Otas.

Jonquil Nicholl, a midwife with the aid group who delivered the baby, said it was "a very normal birth in dangerously abnormal conditions."

Parents Otas and Faith and older brothers Victory and Rollres were rescued from a rubber boat trying to cross the Mediterranean from Libya a day previously.

The baby's mother said she was panicking before the rescue that she would go into labor, and had been having contractions for three days.


9:35 a.m.

Luxembourg's foreign minister says Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the European Union over its approach to refugees and other issues.

Jean Asselborn's comments in German daily Die Welt came days before 27 EU leaders meet in Bratislava to discuss the bloc's future. He said the EU can't tolerate fundamental values being violated.

Asselborn was quoted Tuesday as saying: "Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU." He argued it's the only way to "preserve the cohesion and values of the European Union."

Hungary is holding a government-sponsored referendum Oct. 2 seeking support for rejecting any future EU plan to resettle migrants among member states.


9:30 a.m.

Greece's coast guard says a search and rescue operation is underway for dozens of migrants on board a boat near the Greek island of Samos, after someone on board called emergency services.

The coast guard said a helicopter and vessel from the European border patrol agency Frontex and a coast guard vessel are searching north of Samos for the vessel, which the caller said was carrying about 40 people.

The short but often-dangerous crossing from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands has been the preferred route for more than a million refugees and migrants hoping for better lives in the European Union. But an EU deal with Turkey reached in March and Balkan border closures have severely restricted the flow.


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