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13 dead after migrant inflatable dinghy collides with ferry off Turkey

Des migrants arrivent sur les côtes de l'île grecque de Lesbos après avoir traversé la mer Egée depuis la Turquie, le 10 septembre 2015
Angelos Tzortzinis (AFP/Archives)
Hungary reopens Serbia border; thousands of migrants enter Austria

At least 13 migrants died off the coast of Turkey Sunday after the inflatable dinghy carrying them to Greece collided with a ferry, Turkish media reported.

Four children were among the victims of the accident involving a boat carrying 46 migrants from the northwestern Turkish port of Canakkale to the Greek island of Lesbos, Dogan news agency reported.

Twenty people were rescued and 13 people were still missing, the report added.

There was no information on the nationalities of the migrants.

Second boat tragedy of the day

The sinking was the second Sunday in the Aegean Sea, with the Greek coastguard reporting another two dozen feared missing from a boat that got into trouble close to Lesbos.

The coastguard said it had rescued 20 people spotted in the water by a helicopter deployed by EU border agency Frontex, but the survivors said another 26 people had been in the boat.

Hungary/Serbia border reopens

Hungary on Sunday reopened its main border crossing with Serbia, whose closure led thousands of migrants to surge into Croatia and resulted in the shunting of the desperate flood of humanity from one country to another.

Hungarian and Serbian interior ministers jointly reopened the Horgos-Roszke 1 crossing, which had been closed since Monday.

Nikolay Doychinov (AFP)

"The situation dictated the closure (of the border crossing) but in cooperation with our Serbian colleagues, the problems have been overcome and conditions reached for it to reopen," said Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter.

Pinter and his Serbian counterpart Nebojsa Stefanovic both reopened the crossing on the highway that before the migrant crisis was the main route linking Belgrade and Budapest.

The closure had led thousands of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa to try and find other routes to western and northern Europe, where most want to start a new life.

Most flooded into Croatia, which within days announced that it could not cope with the flow and began to redirect the migrants back toward Hungary or toward Slovenia.

Thousands reach Austria

Crowded aboard buses and trains, thousands more migrants flooded into Austria on Sunday from countries unable or unwilling to cope with a desperate human tide fleeing war and poverty for a better life in western Europe.

Austrian police said more than 11,000 entered the country on Saturday, and another 4,700 arrived Sunday through the Nickelsdorf border post from Hungary.

Elvis Barukcic (AFP)

Most of the migrants had made the gruelling journey across the Balkans into western Europe, with Croatia saying 21,000 had entered its territory in the past four days.

The Austrian Red Cross said 2,000 made it into Germany by avoiding border posts.

Germany investigate migrant IS-link

German police are investigating an asylum-seeker on suspicion that he fought for the Islamic State group in Syria, newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday.

The suspect is a Syrian national and lives in an asylum-seeker shelter in the northeast region of Brandenburg, the newspaper reported, quoting security sources.

The man had allegedly told other migrants living in the centre that he had fought for the IS group and killed people.

Attila Kisbenedek (AFP)

His claims were filmed secretly with a mobile telephone by other residents of the shelter, leading to the probe.

Investigators are now trying to determine if the Syrian was indeed a member of the IS, the newspaper reported.

A spokeswoman for federal police declined to confirm or deny the report.

Despite the case, federal police do not believe that Islamists are infiltrating Germany through the influx of refugees.

International funding cuts

Analysts have said that one of the main reasons for the increase in numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe is the worsening of conditions faced by Syrians in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which has largely been caused by sharp cuts in international funding.

In contrast to this, the view that Europe is dedicating resources to help the migrants is prompting some to make the dangerous journey who might otherwise have chosen to remain where they were, according to The New York Times.

The United Nations Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan, had by the end of August received just 37% of the $4.5 billion it needed this year.

António Guterres, the high commissioner for refugees, has said that his agency’s budget this year would be 10% smaller than in 2014, despite the massive requirements of those displaced by the conflict in Syria.

Jure Makovec (AFP)

The Word Food Program and World Health Organization have also only received small percentages of their budgetary requirements for the year.

“The conditions are now so bad or overstretched in neighboring countries that the people fleeing Syria are choosing, or have no other choice, but to go straight to Europe,” said Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the refugee agency told The New York Times.

Abeer Etefa, spokesperson for the World Food Program in the Middle East, said that “the crisis is going into its fifth year and there is some sign of fatigue among donor countries.”

Needs are outpacing resources, she said. “Many Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and they are losing hope and are desperate, no longer able to meet basic needs: getting food, paying rent, keeping children in schools. Their funds are drying up.”

(Staff with AFP)

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