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Germany to take in more than 1,500 refugees from Greek islands

Issued on: 15/09/2020 – 22:54

Germany said Tuesday it will take in more than 1,500 refugees from G..

Issued on:

Germany said Tuesday it will take in more than 1,500 refugees from Greece on top of the 150 unaccompanied minors whose camp burned down on the island of Lesbos as Berlin tried to rally a fresh EU response to a years-long migrant crisis that flared anew.

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EU countries have been forced to tackle the issue as thousands of former occupants of Moria camp on Lesbos have been sleeping rough in abandoned buildings, on roadsides and rooftops, after their shelters were destroyed by the blaze on the night of September 8.

German Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right coalition had agreed to take in 1,553 refugees from Greece, on top of the 150 unaccompanied minors from the burned-out camp.

Germany will now also welcome families with children who have already secured refugee status in Greece but may not be from Moria.

France has agreed to take in 150 minors from the camp while other EU nations are admitting a total of 100 other youngsters from Moria.

Merkel bemoaned the lack of a concerted European response Tuesday in comments attributed to her.

"This is not a sign of Europe's values and capacity for action," she told a meeting of her parliamentary group in Berlin, according to participants.

Meanwhile Greek officials said six suspects, including "young foreign nationals," have been arrested in Lesbos in connection with the fire.

Greek officials have said several times that the fire was started by migrants who faced isolation after testing positive for coronavirus.

Another fire broke out late Tuesday near a camp on the island of Samos where over 4,700 migrants live.

"There is a forest fire near the camp, but it looks manageable," a fire department source told AFP.

Need 'strong' EU response

European Council chief Charles Michel, flying to Lesbos after talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, urged the 27-nation bloc to "take more responsibilities".

"We want to support the efforts made by the Greek authorities," Michel said.

"We need to make more progress to improve our border controls … we need to have more partnerships with third countries, we cannot solve everything alone," he said on a hill overlooking a new tent camp hastily put together by Greek authorities.

I'm deeply moved by the difficult situation of those stranded on #Lesbos. The EU wont turn a blind eye to the challenge.

It's our responsibility to support frontline countries & Greece.

Migration requires a coherent EU response based on values bringing us together.#MoriaCamp pic.twitter.com/rSQPepGVTY

— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) September 15, 2020

EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said between "8-9,000 will be able to find immediate temporary shelter" there.

Five years after the arrival in Europe of over a million asylum seekers, many fleeing wars in Iraq and Syria, the question over how the bloc should share out its refugee responsibilities remains sensitive.

Opposition from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia over taking in refugees has been a major stumbling block in the EU's attempt to reform its migration and asylum policies.

Even in Germany, politicians are wary of seeing the same scenes of huge migrant arrivals as in 2015, which the far-right capitalised on to gain a foothold in parliament.

This time round, Merkel's government has repeatedly insisted it is key to finding a European solution to the issue.

A "just, strong and efficient reRead More – Source

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Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass

A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life.

Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like “no to vaccine passes”.

Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places.

The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France’s parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.

Instead, people would have to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.

The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.

But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.

Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens, telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off”.

One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Houget, told the Reuters news agency that Mr Macron’s remarks were “the last straw”.

And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off”.

TV images showed altercations between protesters and police turning violent in some places. In Montpellier officers used teargas during clashes with the demonstrators.

Turnout for the protests was estimated to be about four times higher than the last major demonstrations on 18 December, when some 25,500 people marched across the country.

But despite the vocal protests, opposition to the new measures is not widespread and recent polling suggests the vast majority of people back the vaccine pass.

France is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, with more than 90% of over-12s eligible for the shot fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus infections are rising rapidly across France as the new Omicron variant takes hold.

The country recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the second time in a week on Friday and admissions to intensive care wards are rising steadily, putting healthcare systems under strain.

Some hospitals have reported that some 85% of ICU patients are not vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Covid-19: ‘There is no choice between lives and livelihoods,’ OECD chief Gurría says

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of t..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of the year, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development backs measures seen by many as tough. Ángel Gurría tells FRANCE 24: "If you win the battle against the virus first, you will have less economic consequences." He adds that "there is no choice between lives and livelihoods; it's a false dilemma".

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Mexican economist Ángel Gurría has been Secretary-General of the OECD since 2006 – throughout the global financial crash and subsequent recovery.

With hopes now high for viable vaccines against Covid-19, he's telling world leaders that the solutions to health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis too: "The single most important inter-generational responsibility is with the planet. That means the recovery, where we are going to make investments that have an impact for the next 30, 40 years, must absolutely have the sustainability of the planet in mind".

On the recently announced Pfizer vaccine, Gurría says: "It is a game changer […] The possibility of a vaccine being close is of enormous consequence. We still have to wait for it to be finalised, approved and distributed in sufficient amounts that it can get everywhere, so we are calculating that we are going to spend most of 2021 still living with the virus. But it changes expectations; the whole mood has improved considerably since the announcement."

On the refusal of Donald Trump, leader of the OECD's biggest single funder, to concede defeat in the US presidential election, Gurría sounds an upbeat note: "I believe that we will have an orderly transition of power in the United States come 20th January 2021. I believe in the institutions in the United States, I believe that the political forces in the United States will eventually align."

Finally, as talks drag on over a new Brexit deal on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, Gurría says he still expects a deal to be struck: "I believe that the common interest will lead to a deal […] The impact in Europe is going to be limited to the trade with the UK. The impact in the UK is going to be very serious, not only because of the flows of trade and flows of investment, but also because the overall business mood will be affected. So I am still counting on a deal."

Produced by Mathilde Bénézet

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Attacks in France and Austria: Europe’s response to extremism

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24
This Friday..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE
TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24

This Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The last few weeks have seen more bloodshed, with attacks in the Paris region, in Nice and in the Austrian capital Vienna. European leaders are looking for solutions: ways to stop hate being preached, broadcast and acted upon, while defending individual freedoms of speech and of conscience. In our debate we ask two leading members of the European Parliament, from France and from Austria, what they believe should be done.

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Produced by Yi Song and Perrine Desplats

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Our guests

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Austrian MEP, Socialists & Democrats
  • Nathalie LOISEAU, French MEP, Renew Europe

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