— A day after the German vice chancellor said that his country could accept 500,000 migrants annually for several years, the leaders of Germany and Sweden
appealed on Tuesday for the European Union to find a way for legitimate asylum seekers to be distributed equitably throughout the 28-member bloc.
The recent influx has presented Europe
with one of its toughest migration challenges in decades, and leaders have been unable to agree on a coherent strategy, emboldening anti-immigrant sentiment in some quarters.
and Germany announced measures on Monday to take in more asylum seekers, Denmark
and Hungary sought to dissuade migrants from coming, and Greece made an urgent plea to the European Union for financial aid to help process migrants on the island of Lesbos
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, is expected on Wednesday to announce a new proposal for the distribution of 160,000 migrants. But past proposals to put in place quotas for member countries have drawn fierce criticism, particularly from countries in Eastern or Central Europe, like Hungary
Among European Union nations, Sweden, Germany and Austria
have taken in the largest number of migrants among the tens of thousands of people who have made their way to Europe over land and sea in recent months.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said that, in addition to negotiating a binding solution for equal distribution of migrants, Europe needed to improve cooperation with Turkey
, which has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrians but has also become a major transit country for those trying to reach northern Europe.
Ms. Merkel spoke by telephone with the Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, on Tuesday to discuss the migrant crisis and how to move toward a lasting solution, the chancellor’s office said.
Stefan Lofven, the Swedish prime minister, said that neither his country nor Germany was “closing our eyes to this humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Germany and Sweden have a lot in common,” he said. “In the future, we will take on the responsibility to take in people who are fleeing war and oppression.”
Berlin has already said that it expects 800,000 people to seek asylum in Germany in 2015, four times as many as last year. The country’s vice chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, told ZDF public television that the country was prepared for the influx to continue beyond this year, although he warned that other countries needed to carry their share of the burden.
But Hannelore Kraft, governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, said on Tuesday that she expected even more people to reach the country in 2015 than currently projected, noting that the most recent figure was based on calculations made before the current influx.
“We all know that it won’t remain at 800,000,” she said.
The growing stream of migrants into Europe comes as intense fighting in Syria
has driven more people to flee in recent weeks, and as deteriorating conditions in neighboring countries are pushing many to head straight for Europe, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.
At the same time, United Nations agencies reported that low levels of funding were forcing them to cut food and other aid to hundreds of thousands of Syrians, another factor pushing many to embark on hazardous journeys to Europe.
The Danish government responded to the growing humanitarian crisis with a barely veiled warning to migrants in Lebanon not to come to the prosperous Nordic country. Advertisements, which appeared in the newspapers As Safir, An Nahar and The Daily Star on Monday, advised those seeking to go to Denmark to look elsewhere.
The Danish ads highlight the stringent regulations and constraints that await migrants: It can take five years to attain permanent residency; there are tough requirements on learning Danish; those who are granted temporary residency permits will not have the right to bring over family members in the first year after they arrive; and recent changes in the country have slashed welfare benefits for them by 50 percent.
Translated into several languages, including Arabic, the ads were published in Lebanon
, where 1.4 million Syrians have sought refuge. Many of them live in difficult conditions in a country that is struggling to accommodate the influx.
Inger Stojberg, the Danish integration minister, was quoted by the EUobserver, an online newspaper, as telling TV 2 News, a Danish broadcaster, that the ad campaign cost 30,000 euros, or about $33,500 — what it would spend to accommodate a migrant for a year. Ms. Stojberg said the ads amounted to “good business,” given that they were likely to deter people from coming to Denmark.
Danes ousted their center-left government in June elections, a shift that elevated the far-right Danish People’s Party, which has railed against Muslim immigration and the European Union.
The police in southern Denmark closed a highway late Monday when groups of migrants began to march toward Sweden, news reports said.
, there were skirmishes overnight between the police and migrants on Lesbos, which has been severely strained by the influx of migrants. The Greek immigration minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, said the situation was “one step before an explosion,” adding that up to 17,000 refugees were on the island, which has a population of 85,000 people.
Migrants staged a march from their camp to the main port on Monday, demanding to be allowed to leave the island and continue their journeys to more prosperous countries in western and northern Europe.
Later in the day, 6,000 people crowded into the port in the hope of boarding a government ferry bound for Piraeus, near Athens, causing a crush and prompting police and Coast Guard officers armed with batons to push them back.
That came after violence over the weekend, when protesters and the police clashed, and two teenagers were arrested after they threw homemade gas bombs at tents set up by migrants, injuring a Syrian man.
Greece, which is already struggling to deal with enormous financial problems, appealed for €2.5 million in emergency aid from the European Union to tackle the problem.
In recent weeks, thousands of migrants from the islands have arrived in the capital, with most forced to sleep in Athens squares because the strapped government has yet to set up reception facilities.
Greek officials have given priority to the transfer of Syrians, fueling anger among Afghans who regularly scuffle with Syrians in the port.
In Hungary, a crowd of several hundred migrants who had broken away from the makeshift arrivals area near the railroad crossing in Roszke
gradually thinned out overnight as the police talked many into boarding buses for so-called reception camps.
The migrants, many of whom want to go to Germany, began walking the 100 miles to Budapest on Monday, temporarily closing a main highway.
About 50 people slept in an underpass near the highway overnight, but temperatures fell into the 40s and by morning all of them, threatened with arrest, abandoned the march. They were bused to camps in Debrecen
, in far eastern Hungary, and Bicske
, a half-hour west of Budapest
On Tuesday, Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, said he wanted to accelerate the construction of a fence along the border to keep out migrants. Hungary has also introduced a law that would make crossing or damaging the fence punishable by prison or expulsion.
At Keleti station in central Budapest, where the presence of thousands of stranded migrants led to scenes of chaos last week, the situation appeared to have returned largely to normal on Tuesday. Hundreds of migrants made their way to Austria and elsewhere by train.
Lt. Col. Gabor Eberhardt, chief of the border police unit in Szeged, Hungary
, the largest city along the 108-mile border with Serbia, said on Tuesday that ever-larger numbers of migrants were pouring into Hungary daily from Greece and Turkey.
In Britain, Parliament was to hold an emergency debate on Tuesday on the country’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the BBC reported, after several lawmakers said the government’s plan to accept 20,000 people from Syria over the next five years was woefully inadequate.
Mr. Cameron said that Britain would accept up to 20,000 Syrians, but that they would most likely be limited to those applying for asylum from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, rather than those already in Europe. The British government says it does not want to encourage migrants to undertake perilous journeys to Europe.