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The Latest: Rescue ship recovers bodies of 5 dead migrants

Associated Press Associated Press 14/09/2016
FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 file photo, migrants crowd onto a wooden boat as they wait to be rescued by members of an ONG at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. When the camera’s viewfinder is in “night vision” mode, a hidden world appears that is invisible to the naked eye in the darkness of night. Bathed in green, the view is even more dreamlike _ or nightmarish. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 file photo, migrants crowd onto a wooden boat as they wait to be rescued by members of an ONG at the Mediterranean sea, about 13 miles north of Sabratha, Libya. When the camera’s viewfinder is in “night vision” mode, a hidden world appears that is invisible to the naked eye in the darkness of night. Bathed in green, the view is even more dreamlike _ or nightmarish. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, File)

BRUSSELS — The Latest on Europe's migration crisis (all times local):

7:40 p.m.

An Irish navy rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean says it recovered the bodies of five dead migrants, one of whom was pregnant.

The Irish navy said its ship, LE James Joyce, rescued 265 people from two dinghies 32 miles (52 kilometers) northwest of Tripoli on Wednesday.

The survivors were being transferred to an Italian navy vessel along with the bodies of the four women and one man who died during the crossing.

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7:05 p.m.

A Nigerian woman has given birth to a baby boy aboard a rescue ship during a migrant crossing from Libya.

Doctors said mother Faith and baby Newman Otas were doing fine Wednesday after the Aquarius rescue ship docked in Brindisi, on Italy's Adriatic coast.

The Aquarius, which is operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, had rescued about 140 migrants over the weekend. Faith, who had been in labor for three days, gave birth Monday aboard the Aquarius.

Sarah Giles, with Doctors Without Borders, said the birth was "a pretty normal birth just under really extraordinary circumstances." She said Newman had the "good timing" to be born on the Aquarius since the dinghy was overcrowded and full of skin-burning seawater and diesel.

She said: "The mother and baby are great. They came off the ship as a family — mother, father, three children — which is really nice. It's a good news story but unfortunately we have many children who don't get off with their families and who during their long journey have had parents die, or parents who had their children die."

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6:35 p.m.

Greek authorities will investigate whether a parents' association's strong objections to planned lessons for refugee children at a northern primary school constitute a breach of anti-racism laws.

A Thessaloniki prosecutor was also instructed Wednesday to look into allegations that officials made racist comments during a local council meeting on the issue.

The parents' association at a school in Oraiokastro, a suburb of Thessaloniki, has threatened to occupy the school in protest if the government tries to go ahead with the plan. A spokesman cited fears children from nearby refugee camps could transmit diseases such as tuberculosis to their own offspring.

Government officials strongly condemned the reactions.

About 60,000 refugees and other migrants are trapped in Greece. The government wants to integrate refugee and migrant children into the state education system.

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3:35 p.m.

The European Union has given final approval for the launch of a new border and coast guard, paving the way for it to start work next month.

The border guard will be built up from the EU's border management agency Frontex. The plan was launched as national coast guards were overwhelmed by the arrival last year of more than 1 million people seeking sanctuary or jobs.

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said Wednesday that the new agency will help Europe confront the challenges to its passport-free travel zone known as the Schengen area.

A pool of 1,500 border guards and technical equipment will be on standby to rapidly deploy to countries struggling with extraordinary migration flows.

Liaison officers would be stationed in states to monitor migrant movements.

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2 p.m.

Romanian border police say they have detained four Serbs suspected as acting as guides for two dozen Syrian migrants.

Police said Wednesday that heat-detecting equipment helped them spot the migrants and a guide in western Romania late Tuesday. The group was heading toward the border with Hungary.

Romania is a member of the European Union, but is not in the Schengen area, where there is passport-free travel.

Border police, working with organized crime prosecutors and local police, say they located a second guide allegedly connected to the group in the city of Timisoara. The other two were detained near the border crossing to which the migrants were thought to be heading.

Police are questioning the 24 migrants and the guides Wednesday in Timisoara.

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1:05 p.m.

A Serbian government minister says the Balkan country should consider applying "more drastic" measures, including border barriers, to reduce the number of migrants entering the country.

Labor minister Aleksandar Vulin said Wednesday that Serbia must avoid becoming "overcrowded" with stranded migrants who cannot move on toward the European Union.

Vulin says they are mostly so-called economic migrants, who fled their native countries in search of a better future in the EU, but stand little chance of being granted asylum in the bloc.

He says "it may be time to propose some more drastic measures which would substantially reduce the influx of migrants." He adds that "perhaps barriers, or at least setting up some obstacles, could be one of the solutions."

Nearly 5,000 migrants are currently in Serbia.

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12:30 p.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insists Turkey must meet all conditions for its citizens to win visa-free travel in Europe, a key plank of the EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Juncker told EU lawmakers Wednesday that "visa liberalization will only happen if all of the necessary conditions are fulfilled by the Turkish side."

But he also called for patience, saying Turkey has tough issues to resolve to meet the conditions, which include redefining what constitutes a terrorist act to ensure that journalists and academics are not targeted.

Turkey has been struck by several suicide bombings and a thwarted military coup in July and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is refusing to soften his line.

Juncker says he hopes Ankara will fulfil the visa waiver requirements, but acknowledged it might not happen "necessarily in the set timetable."

The visa waiver was supposed to have been granted in July but was then delayed until October. EU and Turkish officials now say they expect it "in coming months."

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11:55 a.m.

European Commission president has appealed for reinforcements to be sent to Bulgaria's border to help manage migrant arrivals from Turkey.

Jean-Claude Juncker told EU lawmakers on Wednesday that he wants "to see at least 200 extra border guards and 50 extra vehicles deployed at the Bulgarian external borders as of October."

He also appealed to member countries to get the EU's new border and coast guard agency up and running as soon as possible.

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11:25 a.m.

Hungary's anti-migration prime minister says the future of the European Union will be decided at Bulgaria's border with Turkey, not in Brussels, and is urging the EU to provide more money to Bulgaria to help boost its border defense.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Bulgarian counterpart Boiko Borisov inspected a fence topped with razor wire in the Bulgarian border village of Lesovo on Wednesday, part of a route used by migrants trying to enter the EU.

Orban said that "Bulgaria's successful defense is in the common interest of all of us."

Borisov, who is seeking immediate assistance of 160 million euros ($180 million) from the EU to bolster Bulgaria's border security, said that "without joint efforts by all EU states, a lasting solution cannot be found."

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10:40 a.m.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says solidarity cannot be imposed on EU member countries amid vehement opposition in some states to his refugee quota scheme.

Juncker told EU lawmakers Wednesday that "solidarity must be voluntary, must come from the heart."

His Commission drew up an obligatory scheme to share 160,000 refugees in Greece and Italy and any other overwhelmed country among their EU partners over two years. Slovakia, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and others have refused to take part. Hungary even launched a legal challenge.

One year on, fewer than 5,000 refugees have been moved.

Despite the about-face, Juncker appealed to EU nations to do their "fair share" and relocate refugees, and resettle others from places like Turkey.

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