GAZIANTEP, Turkey (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s migration crisis (all times local):
Barack Obama says a recent deal between the European Union and Turkey takes a step toward fairer sharing of the job of housing refugees.
But the U.S. president was also stressing the need to uphold human rights.
Many have questioned the March 20 deal, which allows the deportation back to Turkey of migrants who don’t qualify for asylum in Greece. German Chancellor Angela Merkel championed the accord.
In comments to German daily Bild published Saturday, Obama praised Merkel’s “political and moral leadership” in acting on an obligation to help people fleeing horrific conditions.
He said that the EU-Turkey agreement “is a step toward a more equitable way of sharing this responsibility.” Obama added: “As the agreement is implemented, it will be essential that migrants are treated properly and that human rights are upheld.”
More than 100 people have taken advantage of an unusually low tide to wade around a border fence that juts out into to the Mediterranean Sea to enter Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta.
The Red Cross says it attended those who made it into Ceuta and that six were taken to hospital to treat cuts and bruises.
Spanish police say they intercepted 119 migrants who had managed to walk around the border fence on Saturday.
Television footage transmitted on state broadcaster TVE’s news bulletin showed police intercepting the migrants as they approached Ceuta’s beach.
Thousands of migrants try to reach Spain each year either by attempting to enter the country’s African enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta or by making perilous sea crossings to the mainland.
A human rights group says German Chancellor Angela Merkel and top European Union officials should rethink the EU’s refugee deal with Turkey, as they travel to the Syrian border to promote the troubled agreement.
Saturday’s trip to the Turkish border city of Gaziantep, including a refugee camp, comes amid questions over the legality of the March 20 EU-Turkey deal to deport migrants who do not qualify for asylum in Greece back to Turkey.
Human Right Watch acting director Judith Sunderland says instead of touring a “sanitized” refugee camp, the EU leaders should focus on the tens of thousands of Syrians blocked at the border. She also urged them to visit a detention center for migrants “abusively deported from Greece.”
Sunderland says “that should make them rethink the flawed EU-Turkey deal.”