02:10 GMT +321 February 2018
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    Refugees Welcome Rally in London as EU Dithers Over Crisis

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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1817)
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    UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is to speak at a rally in London Wednesday calling for Britain to open its doors to more refugees as the EU asylum policy lies in tatters with only 116 refugees relocated and the first relocation from Greece taking place on the same day.

    Europe is deeply divided over the asylum seeker crisis, with many criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for opening the floodgates to hundreds of thousands of refugees when she declared Germany's doors were open. Her comments immediately led to thousands fleeing Syria and refugee camps in surrounding countries, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan making their way to Europe.

    Hungarian army soldiers erect a fence on the border with Croatia near Zakany, Hungary, October 1, 2015.
    © REUTERS/ Bernadett Szabo
    Hungarian army soldiers erect a fence on the border with Croatia near Zakany, Hungary, October 1, 2015.

    Hungarian leader Victor Orban and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico joined others in condemning Merkel for throwing open Germany's borders to Syrian refugees, saying she has triggered a surge of migrants that Europe cannot cope with.

    At first, the main path was via the Mediterranean, with many being killed by undertaking the crossing from Libya or dicing with death crossing from Turkey to Greece and Italy — the two countries that initially bore the brunt of the crisis.

    Hungary built a 175-km (109-mi) razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia, then another one along its border with Croatia, shortly after announcing that it would close off its border with Croatia altogether.

    Police officers escort Fatima from Syria (front) and other migrants as they make their way on foot after crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border, in Rigonce, Slovenia, October 22, 2015
    © REUTERS/ Srdjan Zivulovic
    Police officers escort Fatima from Syria (front) and other migrants as they make their way on foot after crossing the Croatian-Slovenian border, in Rigonce, Slovenia, October 22, 2015

    Slovenia blocked transit from Croatia in September, pepper spraying migrants trying to cross. It later reopened it, but crossing to 2,500 migrants per day. Austria introduced some border controls along its border with Hungary in September and Germany placed temporary travel restrictions from Austria by rail.

    Asylum Disarray 

    Merkel is coming under intense pressure in Germany — which is set to take in up to 800,000 refugees this year, as she is facing a split within her own coalition over setting up transit zones, which one of her ally parties dubbed 'concentration camps'.

    Meanwhile, she is at odds with Horst Seehofer, chairman of the CSU and Minister-President of Bavaria over her refusal to put a cap on the number of refugees the country will take in as his state struggles to deal with the refugees swarming along the West Balkan route.

    In the meantime, the EU's Schengen area open borders policy lies in tatters, as border controls are imposed and lifted, while the Dublin agreement — that requires refugees to be processed at the point of entry into the Schengen area — has been all but torn up.

    The EU as a whole has failed to agree how to deal with the crisis, with Merkel and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker calling for all the refugees to be relocated within EU member states according to a quota system, which many member states have rejected. 

    The body of a young man covered with a blue blanket remains on Eftalou beach after his dinghy capsized on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.
    © AP Photo/ Santi Palacios

    So far, of the 160,000 refugees adopted as part of the scheme, only 116 have so far been removed.

    In a further example of the slow reaction to the crisis, European Parliament President Martin Schulz traveled to Athens and Lesbos Wednesday to be present for the departure of the first relocated refugees from Greece — just six families from Syria and Iraq — since the crisis began.

    "Thirty in the face of thousands who have fled their homes in Syria and Iraq is a drop in the ocean," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted.

    European Council President Donald Tusk has called for a fifth EU summit on the migrant crisis — in Valletta, Malta on November 12 — after failing to get agreement on asylum policy at the last four held in Brussels — the first of which was in April.

    "If the migrant crisis is not adequately controlled as agreed at the summit in Brussels there is a possibility of conflict situations between the states of the Western Balkans," Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar told a news conference, echoing similar warnings from Merkel.

    The London rally Wednesday will highlight the deep divisions — potentially very dangerous ones — that face Europe at the moment. The group Stand up to Racism, which is organizing the rally said that there is "no agreement on how to provide protection to many thousands still stranded in Hungary, Calais and other parts of the EU.

    "With winter approaching, people are desperate."

    Topic:
    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1817)

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    Schengen area, divisions, borders, migrant crisis, summit, meeting, humanitarian crisis, rally, chaos, conflict, refugees, European Commission, European Union, Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Europe
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