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Europe deals with migrant crisis with agreements, police and fence

Staff writer |
France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his British counterpart Theresa May will sign a deal this week to try to solve the migrant crisis in Calais, the government said.

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The deal will focus on securing the area where thousands of people desperate to get to Britain have gathered, tackling human trafficking rings and improving humanitarian aid for migrants, France's interior ministry said.

The situation in Calais was on the front pages in the past weeks as migrants make attempt after attempt to enter the under-Channel Eurotunnel to reach Britain, some paying for it with their lives.

Some 3,000 people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are camped in Calais in slum-like conditions, and while France and Britain have tried to present a united front in tackling the crisis, the issue has strained ties between the two countries.

United Kingdom has pledged £22 million ($34 million) for improving security at the French end of the Channel Tunnel.

In the meantime, Hungary says it is sending thousands of police to border against migrants.

Hungary will send thousands of policemen to its southern border with Serbia where it is building a security fence to stem an influx of migrants, a top government official said. Hungary registered over 100,000 migrants so far this year, compared with 43,000 in all 2014. Most are from poor or conflict-ridden countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and look to move on to wealthier western and northern EU countries.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said the deployment of additional border guards was required because of what he called the increasingly aggressive and resolute behaviour of migrants.

"Several thousand police officers will be deployed to the Serbian border whose task will be to defend this border section," Lazar told a news conference during a break in a cabinet meeting.

Hungary aims to complete a fence along its 177-km (110-mile) frontier with Serbia, a project criticised by Belgrade and the United Nations refugee agency, by November.

At the same time, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that Europe must work out a fairer way of sharing refugees, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the refugee crisis would likely prove a greater political challenge for Europe than Greece.

"We have to spread the responsibility across more shoulders," António Guterres told Die Welt.

"It is not sustainable in the long term that only two EU countries with capable asylum structures – Germany and Sweden – take up the majority of refugees."

Business daily Handelsblatt reported that the federal government would release forecasts on Wednesday showing that it expects as many as 750,000 asylum seekers to arrive this year – an increase of two-thirds over the previous official estimate of 450,000.

Sweden may take up to 74,000 asylum seekers this year, and took 13 percent of the European total in 2014 - a massive number proportionate to the size of the country's population.

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