Dying migrant children stir consciences across Europe
Published 03/09/2015 | 02:30
The plight of dying and suffering children last night intensified debate across Europe about how to respond to the ever-worsening migrant crisis.
Images of suffering children struggling with their families to cross into the EU became a rallying point for those who argue Europe should be opening its arms to refugees.
But last night borders were being re-established, curtailing the free movement of people within the Schengen zone.
Border checks were carried out between Italy and Austria at the request of Germany amid signs that officials now believe the principle of "freedom of movement" within the EU is not sustainable.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron responded to calls for the UK to accept its "fair share" of refugees by saying the answer to the crisis was not for Britain to take in "more and more" people.
After criticism from Germany, which is giving homes to 800,000 refugees, Mr Cameron said: "We have taken a number of genuine asylum seekers from Syrian refugee camps and we keep that under review, but we think the most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world. I don't think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees."
Diplomats last night said that the Schengen system of open borders in the EU was "under threat".
Stephan Mayer, a German MP and home affairs spokesman for Angela Merkel's group of MPs, said: "I am extremely pleased that these border controls between Italy and Austria are under way. That was the express wish of the Bavarian government, given the dramatic increase in asylum seekers and refugees in southern Bavaria."
Under the Schengen agreement, a country can introduce border controls in "exceptional circumstances", where a "serious threat to public policy or internal security" is identified, but only for 30 days.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "Schengen has now hit the buffers of the real world and is falling apart. In a crisis, national interests always prevail over European ideology."
The EC described the controls as "police checks" and denied they were in contravention of the Schengen agreement.
In Calais, passengers on a Eurostar train from Paris to London took 16 hours to complete their journey after a security breach by migrants left them stranded. Up to 150 migrants tried to climb on to the carriages after stopping the train by lying on the tracks, forcing police to turn off power to overhead cables.
Passengers spent five hours in hot, airless and dark carriages before being taken to a nearby station. Some fainted and a pregnant woman had to be taken to hospital.
Nevertheless, many passengers expressed sympathy for the migrants' plight, saying their own inconvenience was nothing compared with those who risked their lives in a desperate attempt to reach the UK for a better life.
Frontex, the European border control agency, estimated that 23,000 people arrived in Greece alone last week - a 50pc increase on the previous week - taking the total so far this year to 160,000. (© Daily Telegraph, London)