EU urged to prolong border controls

INNOCENCE: A boy looks out through a window at refugee camp in Idomeni, near the Greek-Macedonian border, on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 30 April 2016
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EU urged to prolong border controls

VIENNA: Austria and Germany said on Saturday they were in talks with the European Union’s executive body to extend temporary border controls brought in last year to help stem the migrant flow.

The measures — triggered in case of “a serious threat to public policy or internal security” — are due to expire on May 12.
“I can confirm that we are having discussions with the EU Commission and our European partners about this,” Austrian interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP.
Member states must “be able to continue carrying out controls on their borders,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a written statement to AFP.
“Even if the situation along the Balkan route is currently calm, we are observing the evolution of the situation on the external borders with worry.”
His Austrian counterpart, Wolfgang Sobotka, said checkpoints along the Hungarian border had been reinforced in late April after “a rise in people-smuggling activity.”
“The introduction of a coordinated border management system with our neighboring countries after the [May 12] deadline expires would be the first step in the direction of a joint European solution,” Sobotka said.
The remarks came after German media had reported that several EU states were urging Brussels to extend the temporary controls inside the passport-free Schengen zone for at least six months.
The EU allowed bloc members to introduce the restrictions after hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees began trekking up the Balkans from Greece toward western and northern Europe last September.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden have all clamped down on their frontiers as the continent battles its biggest migration crisis since the end of World War II.
“We request that you put forward a proposal, which will allow those member states who consider it necessary to either extend or introduce the temporary border controls inside Schengen as of May 13,” the six countries said in a letter addressed to the EU, according to German newspaper Die Welt.
A source close to the German government told AFP the letter would be sent on Monday.
The European Commission, which did not comment on the matter, is due to give its verdict on May 12 on whether Greece has done enough in recent weeks to protect the EU’s external borders.
In case of a negative assessment, the executive could give the green light for an extension of the border controls.
The influx of people fleeing violence and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere has put a huge strain on the bloc’s 28 members.
While the flow via the Balkans route has slowed to a trickle after countries shut their borders, governments fear that the migrants will seek out new routes into the EU.
More than 26,000 migrants have already landed on Italy’s shores so far this year after setting off from Libya.


Sri Lanka victims: Citizens of at least 12 countries killed

A Sri Lankan couple, whose family member was killed in a yesterday blast, leaves from a mortuary after identifying the body, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, April 22, 2019. (AP)
Updated 15 min 23 sec ago
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Sri Lanka victims: Citizens of at least 12 countries killed

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: At least 290 people were killed in a series of nine bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Sri Lankan authorities say at least 30 foreigners died in the attacks. A look at some of the countries whose citizens were among the victims:
SRI LANKA: The vast majority of the victims were believed to be Sri Lankan citizens, many of them members of the island nation’s Christian minority. Names of many victims and other details on their lives were slow to trickle in and difficult to report, in part because Sri Lankan authorities blocked most social media after the blasts.
But among them was Dileep Roshan, 37, a carpenter who left behind a wife and daughter, his family told The Associated Press.
“His wife and daughter won’t be able to do much now because he is gone,” his older brother, Sanjeevani Roshan, said. “The real question is what will happen to their future.”
UK: Sri Lanka’s top diplomat in Britain says authorities know of eight British nationals killed in the bombings.
Among them were lawyer Anita Nicholson, son Alex Nicholson and daughter Annabel Nicholson, her husband, Ben Nicholson, confirmed in a statement. Nicholson said the family was on holiday, sitting at the table of the restaurant of the Shangri-la Hotel when they were killed. He said: “The holiday we had just enjoyed was a testament to Anita’s enjoyment of travel and providing a rich and colorful life for our family, and especially our children.”
INDIA: Indian officials say eight Indians died in the attacks.
DENMARK: The Bestseller clothing chain confirmed Danish media reports that three of the children of its owner, business tycoon Anders Holch Povlsen, were killed in the attacks. However, spokesman Jesper Stubkier gave no details in an emailed response to a query on the matter and said the company had no further comment.
SPAIN: Spain’s foreign ministry says a Spanish man and woman were killed but didn’t provide further details. The mayor of Pontecesures in northwest Spain, Juan Manuel Vidal, tells Radio Galega he knew the local pair and says they were in their 30s, according to a report by Spanish private news agency Europa Press.
AUSTRALIA: Australia’s prime minister says a mother and daughter from that country were killed. Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were attending a church service in Negombo when they died.
CHINA: Chinese state media say two of the country’s citizens died in the blasts.
UNITED STATES: The State Department says at least four Americans were killed and several others seriously injured. It gave no details about the victims’ identities.
Fifth-grader Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, spending a year in Sri Lanka on leave from the private Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., was among those killed, the school said in an email to parents, according to the Washington Post . The email said: “Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year.”
Dieter Kowalski, who lived in Denver and worked for international education company Pearson, died in the blasts shortly after he arrived at his hotel for a business trip, the company and his family told AP . A Friday Facebook post reads “And the fun begins. Love these work trips. 24 hours of flying. See you soon Sri Lanka!“
SWITZERLAND: The foreign ministry says two Swiss nationals, one of whom also had the citizenship of another country it didn’t name, died in the attacks. It said a third member of the family, who had two non-Swiss citizenships, also was killed. It didn’t identify the victims.
OTHERS: The Netherlands, Japan and Portugal have also confirmed their nationals were among the dead.