The Latest: 16 Iraqis spurn Czech Republic asylum, go home

ISTANBUL (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s efforts to cope with the influx of migrants (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Sixteen Iraqis who were offered asylum in the Czech Republic have decided to return home.

They arrived in the Czech Republic as part of 153 Iraqi Christians who were threatened by extremists and included in a program to receive asylum here.

After 89 arrived, 25 of them asked to cancel asylum procedures and traveled illegally to Germany where they were arrested; the government consequently stopped the program.

The 16 collected their travel documents last week and were heading also for Germany before police detained them near the German border. They again tried to apply for asylum.

But on Tuesday, Interior Minister Miland Chovanec said they asked to return to Iraq. No reasons were given.

Eight others from the 153 also decided to return home earlier.


2:20 p.m.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says Turkey could easily call off the migrant deal struck with the European Union if visa rules for Turkish nationals aren’t relaxed within the next two months.

The deal struck by Ankara and Brussels sees Turkey accepting migrants deported from Europe in return for easier access to European visas for Turkish nationals.

The Anadolu Agency quoted the prime minister as saying that if Brussels did not hold up its end of the bargain by June then “no one would expect Turkey to adhere its commitments.”

Davutoglu spoke on his way to Strasbourg, France where he addressed EU lawmakers on Tuesday.

He said the deal had already led the number of migrant crossings to nosedive.


2:15 p.m.

A poll shows a large majority of Romanians do not want migrants settling in the country, and opposition to them is growing.

The INSCOP survey found that nearly 85 percent of Romanians questioned expressed a negative opinion about migrants and refugees moving to Romania.

Institute director Darie Cristea told The Associated Press Tuesday: “Migration is now perceived as a phenomenon that brings risks rather than a humanitarian problem. There is also the perception that European authorities are not handling the crisis well.”

The poll found that 11 percent would welcome refugees.

In November, the same poll showed 80 percent of people were opposed to migrants moving to Romania, up from 65 percent in September.

The latest poll was carried out from March 21-28 in 92 places— from cities to villages— and 1,063 people were questioned. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.


11:20 a.m.

The European Commission says it will be providing 700 million euros ($790 million) in emergency humanitarian funding for Greece until 2018 to help it deal with the massive refugee crisis that has seen tens of thousands of people stranded in the country — the first time such funding has been used to help a European Union member.

The funding, announced Tuesday, will be given to aid organizations that will work with the Greek government in providing assistance such as food, shelter, medical and educational services for refugees.

Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said he was in Athens signing agreements allocating the first 83 million euros to eight aid organizations, including UNHCR, the Danish Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children and the international Red Cross.

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