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EU Meets As Europe Tightens Borders on Refugees


A woman and child look at a police officer as they board a bus, after they and other refugees were made to unboard a train by German border police officers, at the train station of the southern German border town of Passau, Germany, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

A woman and child look at a police officer as they board a bus, after they and other refugees were made to unboard a train by German border police officers, at the train station of the southern German border town of Passau, Germany, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

European Union members met in Brussels on Monday to discuss the refugee and migrant crisis.

The European Union, or EU, is trying to stop the large number of people entering Europe. They say refugees are people fleeing war in their home countries. They say migrants are seeking a better life.

Many refugees and migrants are coming to Austria and Germany. These countries say they will take 800,000 migrants. That number could grow to one million, predicted German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

Some European countries, especially those in the East, say Germany encourages refugees and migrants to come to Europe. Germany says it is frustrated with some EU members who are not helping the migrants.

The EU nations have “agreed in principle” to redistribute, or move, 160,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other member nations.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced details Monday after the meeting. The agreement did not say how many refugees each country will take. They did approve moving 32,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries.

Countries in the EU are dealing with the mass migration in different ways.

Hungary has run razor wire along its border. The Hungarian government says it will prosecute people who are caught trying to avoid border police.

Germany says it must better control the border with Austria. Border officials there are checking passports in order to limit the number of people entering their country.

Slovakia says it is increasing border controls, and adding 220 more officers to patrol the border. Slovakia says it is working with Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

Romania agreed to take 1,785 refugees. It said it will not take five thousand more refugees, as the EU has asked.

More than 430,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe this year. Many are refugees from Syria and Iraq. Nearly 3,000 have died, says the International Organization for Migration.

Sunday, 28 more people drowned off Greece when their boat capsized. Many more were rescued near the island of Farmakonisi in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

In Austria, police rescued 42 people hiding in a refrigerated truck on the highway near the German border Sunday. Two Iraqis thought to be smugglers were arrested. Officials note that 71 migrants suffocated in a truck in Austria last month.

Jana Mason is with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In an interview with VOA, she says the UNHCR is on the ground. The UNHCR is working in Europe, at the Hungarian-Serbian border, in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and elsewhere.

“Our primary objective is to assist those governments in responding to this [refugee] situation, both in terms of emergency supplies like tents, plastic sheeting, thermal blankets.

[We are] "helping those governments receive these refugees and others who are streaming across their borders; helping them respond in terms of [asylum] registration; and, ultimately, giving technical assistance and guidance so that these governments can hopefully relocate these individuals in an equitable manner around Europe – around the various countries in Europe.”

Ms. Mason says more refugees are fleeing to Middle Eastern countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. More than four million Syrian refugees are now living in those countries and receiving help. She says the problem needs a diplomatic solution.

“So a comprehensive response, funding in the region, resettlement offers, and, ultimately, ultimately, we need diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis in Syria."

On Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron met with Syrian refugees in Lebanon. He says his country will take 20,000 refugees over the next five years and give Lebanon $43.5 million in new money for aid.

The E.U. ministers meet again Oct. 8.

I’m Jim Tedder.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English with information from VOA sources. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

migrant (s) –n. people who are moving from one country to another in search of a better economic life

frustrated –v. very angry, or discouraged because unable to do or complete something

redistribute –v. to divide something in a group in a different way

razor wire - n. strong wire with many sharp metal pieces on it and is put in a place to keep people in or out

prosecute –v. to take to trial for a crime

capsized –v. overturned in the water

smugglers –n. people who are paid to take people across borders illegally

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