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Ungarn Serbien Flüchtlinge bei Horgos
Image: Getty Images/AFP/E. Barukcic

+++ Refugee crisis - live updates +++

September 14, 2015

EU interior ministers have failed to reach a unanimous agreement to relocate 120,000 refugees across the bloc's 28 nations and take the strain off Greece, Italy, and Hungary. Track the day's main events here.


All updates in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

21:20 German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said it was not possible to reach a unanimous consensus. As a result, he said, Germany, France and other EU states had asked the EU Council Presidency to allow for a majority decision in which opponents - mainly in Eastern Europe - would have to accept an allocation of migrants.

20:38 Luxembourg Interior Minister Jean Asselborn, who has been chairing the meeting in Brussels, says he and his colleagues have failed to reach unanimous agreement on the relocation of 120,000 refugees who have arrived in Italy, Greece and Hungary. "It is premature for the Council to take a decision today," said Asselborn. "Even though we are in urgent circumstances, we have to follow procedures," he added. Asselborn said the ministers would return to the issue in October.

18:46 DW's Peter Dahl has just returned from the Danish-German border, where the government's rejection of refugees and strict border controls has caused some Danes to admit feeling "ashamed" of Copenhagen's policies.

At Flensburg, the German border town that is a popular stop off point for refugees heading to Scandinavia, volunteers are ready with food, supplies, and translation help.

18:02 De Maizière told reporters that further details of the EU agreement would be hammered out on October 8, when the bloc's interior ministers are next set to assemble. His French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve, meanwhile, said member states would push to assure a swift return for any would-be migrants who are not refugees fleeing war or persecution.

Sweden's former foreign minister, Carl Bildt, expressed only moderate satisfaction with Monday's partial outcome.

17:39 Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announces that he and his EU counterparts have agreed in principle to redistribute a total of 160,000 asylum seekers across the 28 nations.

They have not, however, agreed on the details.

17:32 Disappointed with squabbling members of the European Union, a member of Germany's parliament with the Green Party, Renate Künast, responded to an article on the crisis by "Die Welt" by tweeting that the "EU is disintegrating" and that "today I cannot be a proud European."

Künast said that "these demands from the interior ministers and member states only make me angry."

17:13 The Slovenian government says it is preparing for the arrival of "several thousand" refugees and migrants after Budapest closed its main crossing point from Serbia. This step could push people through Slovenia instead of Hungary.

"In case of a sudden arrival of a large number of refugees, Slovenia could give shelter to several thousands, our capacities are being increased daily," interior ministry spokesman Bostjan Sefic said, urging cities, towns and citizens to show solidarity with the rest of Europe.

Whether or not Hungary's border with Serbia is actually closed, however, remains a point of confusion as journalists on the scene report that authorities are switching between opening and closing the newly-erected gate:

16:57 In a radio interview, Pope Francis warns that Europe's refugee crisis is the "tip of the iceberg" created by the "unjust" system that is global capitalism. It is this economic system, Francis told Portuguese Catholic broadcaster Radio Renascenca, that is forcing hundreds of thousands to flee war and poverty in search of better lives.

He further added that the Bible requires strangers be welcomed, although Europe should be careful that members of the "exceedingly cruel terrorist guerrilla group," do not infiltrate Europe while posing as refugees, in an apparent reference to the "Islamic State" terrorist organization.

16:35 Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, speaking to private broadcaster TV2, says he expects the high number of asylum applications submitted after midnight to be rejected, after harsh new anti-migrant statues come into effect.

16:22 Finland says it will step up border monitoring as hundreds of asylum seekers are crossing over daily from Sweden. Interior Minister Petteri Orpo described the situation as "extremely difficult" as many of the refugees have not registered with authorities and have simply headed south by train from the sparsely populated Lapland region, which borders Sweden.

In response, Helsinki says it will set up registration centers on the Swedish frontier as soon as possible after 1,700 migrants arrived last week.

16:16 EU interior ministers appear to be disagreeing over how to handle the redistribution of 120,000 asylum seekers already in Europe. Bernard Cazeneuve of France stressed the need for an urgent response to the "humanitarian dramas" taking place across Europe - but thus far the 28-member bloc has only agreed to relocate up to 40,000 to lighten the burden on overwhelmed Italy and Greece.

15:01 Hungarian police block off the informal crossing point used by refugees entering their country from Serbia. Dozens of officers, backed by mounted police and soldiers, form a barrier across the train track used by migrants seeking to enter the European Union, while a helicopter flies overhead.

14:35 Police in the German state of Bavaria announce that they will be setting up checkpoints on the A8 highway leading into the country from Austria - highly congested on Monday after train traffic from Vienna was halted overnight - in an effort to find asylum seekers.

14:32 Facebook pledges that it will tackle xenophobic speech on its German-language network following an upsurge in racist comments as Germany prepares to take on an unprecedented amount of refugees.

Representatives from the social media firm are set to meet with German Justice Minister Heiko Maas late Monday to discuss the problem and work with other organizations in Germany to "appropriate solutions to counter xenophobia and racism and to represent this online."

13:57 DW correspondent Andrea Rönsberg reports from Brussels that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is less than optimistic about today's meeting with his EU colleagues, saying he was "not certain we'll arrive at a solution."

De Maizière also suggests financial help for Turkey, which is housing the largest number of Syrian refugees of any country that has agreed to take them on.

13:13 As the "extraordinary" meeting of EU interior ministers gets underway in Brussels, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) makes a statement that Hungary was apparently sending thousands of migrants straight onto Austria without registration.

"Earlier these people were being taken to the registration points ... this is not happening now, but rather, buses are taking people from the collection point to the Roszke train station according to our information," says spokesman Erno Simon, after saying the Hungarian authorities were not implementing any "official procedure."

12:58 Reuters news agency reports that armed Hungarian soldiers had gathered on their side of the metal fence that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government is building along the length of the border with Serbia. On Tuesday, new laws will come into force in Hungary which will see anyone caught illegally crossing from the Serbian frontier jailed.

12:45 Ahead of the EU interior ministers meeting to address the crisis, DW's Andrea Rönsberg heard British Home Secretary Theresa May say that the UK, which like Denmark has an opt-out, is unlikely to join any relocation scheme.

Her Slovakian counterpart Robert Kalinak, meanwhile, makes clear his country's opposition to a quota system despite the fact that they may have no choice:

Infografik Die Staaten des Schengener Abkommens Englisch Stand September 2015

11:40 Poland has indicated that it is prepared to impose controls at its borders with other EU members at the first sign of "any threat." Prime Minister Ewa Kopasz also said she told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that her country would not agree to compulsory migrant quotas.

"We will accept only as many refugees as we can afford, not a single one more or less," she said.

EU interior ministers are expected to discuss a proposal from the Commission to distribute 160,000 refugees across member states at an emergency meeting in Brussels later on Monday.

11:25 The German government has defended its decision to tighten security at its border with Austria, saying that refugees will still be allowed to enter the country, but in a "more orderly manner."

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, insisted "temporary controls are not a closure of the border," but were necessary to give security officials a chance to get an idea of "each person who is coming and his or her profile."

Thousands of refugees have reached Germany in recent days, with more than 19,000 arriving in Munich - the main point of entry - over the weekend alone.

10:35 Austria is to temporarily reinstate border controls to cope with the flood of refugees, following Germany's lead.

"If Germany carries out border controls, Austria must put strengthened border controls in place," Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner told a joint news conference with Chancellor Werner Faymann. "We are doing that now."

Germany's decision on Sunday effectively suspended Europe's two-decade old Schengen arrangement, which allows passport-free travel across the continent.

10:15 Slovakia has announced plans to boost border controls along its frontiers with Austria and Hungary. The Slovak interior ministry said it was sending in an extra 220 officers to border crossings "in connection with the emergency situation and the migratory flow." Unlike Austria and Hungary, Slovakia has seen a fairly low number of refugees traveling through its territory to get to Germany.

10:00 Austrian police are reporting that thousands of migrants are continuing to stream across the border from Hungary. Police spokesman Gerald Koller said around 500 people were arriving by bus every hour, with up to 10,000 expected to enter the country by the end of Monday. Many are arriving in the town of Nickelsdorf.

9:45 German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel says Germany may end up taking in one million refugees this year, instead of the 800,000 predicted so far. Germany takes in more asylum seekers than any other country. In a letter to his Social Democratic Party, Gabriel called for other European countries to step up, saying there needed to be a " common European effort" to tackle the refugee crisis.

9:00 Austria's chancellor says the country's military will be deployed at the border to help police deal with the arrival of thousands of migrants from neighboring Hungary. Werner Faymann said the army's role would focus mainly on providing humanitarian help.

8:00 The interior minister of Bavaria has announced that the temporary border controls will likely be in place for at least "several weeks."

"We need to have a stricter control here in general, because we have established in the past few days that there are many en route here that are not really refugees," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann told radio station Bayern 2.

7:00 Heavy traffic is banked up on major highways connecting Austria and Germany. Authorities in the southern state of Bavaria said there were cars queuing up for about 3 kilometers (2 miles).

6:00 German rail operator Deutsche Bahn announces the resumption of train services between Germany and Austria following a 12-hour stoppage overnight. There were some initial delays on the Salzburg-Munich route following reports of people blocking the tracks. Train services were suspended after the German government introduced temporary border controls Sunday evening to stem the tide of thousands of refugees streaming across its frontier.

nm,es,rc/rg,msh (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

For an update of what happened overnight into Monday click here.

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