The Latest: North Macedonia detains 33 migrants near border
NICOSIA – The Latest on migrants in Europe (all times local):
Officials in North Macedonia say a police patrol has detained a group of 33 migrants found walking through the southern part of the country, near the border with Greece.
Police said in a statement that the group consisted of 21 Afghan nationals, seven Pakistanis, three Iraqis and two Iranians. They were located late Wednesday near the southern town of Strumica.
Authorities said the migrants are believed to have entered illegally from Greece. They were transferred to a detention center in the border town of Gevgelija pending deportation to Greece.
Although the Balkan route followed by migrants trying to reach Europe’s prosperous heartland has been closed since 2016, thousands still use it. They usually pay large sums to smuggling gangs to illegally get them through the closed borders.
A ferry operator has found 16 migrants in a sealed trailer on the deck of a ferry traveling from France to Ireland.
Stena Line spokesman Ian Hampton said Thursday the people seem to be in good health and have been moved into a private passenger lounge “where their wellbeing is the focus of our employees.”
He says the migrants were found Wednesday during a routine inspection.
Ferry officials say they have notified security and immigration officials in Rosslare, the Irish port where the ship is headed. It is scheduled to arrive Thursday afternoon.
The ferry left France from the port of Cherbourg.
Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms has rescued 73 migrants from a distressed boat off Libya’s coast.
The NGO said Thursday on its Twitter account that the rescued migrants included four women, a 3-year-old and a 4-year-old, and 24 unaccompanied minors.
Open Arms said the migrants showed signs of gunshot wounds, traumatic shock and serious hypothermia.
On Wednesday, another humanitarian ship, Ocean Viking, said it had rescued another 30 people from a boat in distress off the Libyan coast, bringing the total number of migrants aboard the rescue vessel to 125.
NGOs have been involved in bitter disputes with the Italian government in recent months, after the country previously denied safe harbor to rescue ships under the former hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini.
A French appeals court is expected to hand down a verdict in the case of a mountain guide who was convicted of helping migrants illegally enter the country.
Thursday’s ruling is the latest of several cases putting to the test France’s "principle of fraternity," which allows humanitarian aid for irregular migrants.
A lower court in the Alpine town of Gap gave Pierre Mumber a three-month suspended prison sentence in January, charging that he helped several West African migrants cross the Italian border near Montgenèvre in 2018.
Mumber has appealed the decision, arguing he was simply providing legal humanitarian assistance.
Local aid group Tous Migrants says he was bringing warm drinks, boots and clothing to migrants crossing the Alps when he was detained.
Cyprus police say 120 Syrian migrants have been housed at a reception center after arriving from Turkey aboard a boat.
Police said Thursday that the 97 men, 20 children — including 14 unaccompanied minors — and three women told authorities they each paid people traffickers $4,000 (3,620 euros) for a spot on the boat.
Their vessel was spotted Wednesday sailing off Cape Greco on the southeastern tip of the island nation and was escorted to an area harbor.
The migrants said they set sail from Turkey’s southern port city of Mersin after crossing the Syrian-Turkish border on separate dates.
Cyprus officials say a migrant influx is taxing the small country’s ability to host so many arrivals and is asking fellow European Union member states to share the burden.
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