The Latest: Population at French migrant camp dropping

BERLIN – The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

6:50 p.m.

Local authorities in northern France have lowered the number of migrants estimated to be living in a border refugee camp on the French side of the English Channel following a recount.

The Pas-de-Calais Prefecture said Wednesday that police officers counted 5,684 people at the camp earlier this week. They put the camp’s overall population at 6,486 to factor for those who were absent during the count.

The French government has been gradually deporting and relocating many of the people in the camp, nicknamed “The Jungle” for its overcrowded and bleak conditions.

Two charities, l’Auberge des Migrants and Help Refugees, estimated last month that there were 10,088 migrants living there.

France has announced plans to close the camp, which has become a flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis.


3:00 p.m.

Serbia’s customs authorities say they have discovered 14 migrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan hiding in five trucks headed toward the European Union.

The migrants were discovered Wednesday at the Sid border crossing with Croatia. Customs authorities say the men tried to hide among the cargo that the trucks were carrying to various destinations in the EU.

Police usually hand over such cases to refugee authorities.

Migrants seeking to reach the wealthy EU nations have been trying to cross illegally after countries closed their borders in March. Many have sought help from people smugglers.

More than 6,000 migrants have been stranded in Serbia, which has also stepped up border controls in a bid to manage the influx.


1:30 p.m.

The head of the European Union’s new border agency is calling for member countries to send home more migrants who do not qualify for asylum.

Fabrice Leggeri said Wednesday that only around 40 per cent of people deemed ineligible are actually sent back, notably from Italy where most people seeking work arrive.

Leggeri said most entering Italy, often from Libya and Egypt, “can be returned and should be returned.”

He said Rome wants return procedures accelerated and that “we are now beefing up the returns from Italy to third countries” outside Europe.

Leggeri says the agency has enough funds to send people back, noting that “I have the budget. I’m waiting for national decisions to return migrants.”

He said the problem “is everywhere, in all member states.”


1:20 p.m.

Hungarian police have recommended murder and smuggling charges against one Afghan and seven Bulgarian suspects for the August 2015 deaths of 71 migrants who suffocated in the back of a refrigerated truck in Austria.

Zoltan Boross, head of the National Investigation Bureau’s anti-illegal migration department, said Wednesday that international arrest warrants had been issued for three other Bulgarians suspected of being drivers in the Hungary-based smuggling group.

Boross said the Afghan man considered to be the local boss had been living in Hungary since March 2013 as a recognized refugee.

Boross blamed the suspected ringleader’s “unscrupulousness and greed” for the tragedy, evidenced by the fact that a day after the deaths of the 71 migrants, Austrian police found 67 migrants in a similar truck being smuggled by the same group.


1 p.m.

Germany’s interior minister says some 213,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the country this year, keeping it on course for a far lower total in 2016 than last year’s 890,000.

Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Wednesday the number of newcomers “is still declining but remains significant.” He said the figure he gave for the year’s first nine months reflects the number who “actually registered and entered.”

De Maiziere’s ministry said 272,185 people were registered in a computer system between January and September as incoming asylum-seekers — 15,618 in September, in line with the previous five months’ figures.

However, that system doesn’t register people by name and the figures have been inflated in the past by people registering multiple times. The number registered last year was initially given as nearly 1.1 million.


The item timed at 1:25 p.m. has been corrected to give the name as Zoltan instead of Zotan.