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Merkel vows to 'win back trust' after poll loss blamed on migrant crisis
by Staff Writers
Hangzhou, China (AFP) Sept 5, 2016

Italian navy recovers six dead migrants
Rome (AFP) Sept 5, 2016 - The Italian navy announced Monday it had recovered the bodies of six migrants in search and rescue operations which saved nearly 500 people.

Two patrol boats "recovered nearly 500 people during six rescue operations, including one involving an inflatable boat which was only just about floating, and from which some migrants had fallen into the sea," it said in a statement.

"Six bodies were recovered so far. Search and rescue operations for survivors are continuing," added the navy, which has deployed significant resources off the Libyan coast.

A huge wave of migrants arrived in Italy at the end of August, when some 14,000 people were rescued in the space of five days.

According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) figures 117,590 migrants arrived in Italy between the start of 2015 and September 1, around the same level as last year.

Italy is sheltering growing numbers of would-be refugees as its neighbours to the north move to tighten their borders and make it harder for migrants to travel to their preferred destinations in northern Europe.

According to interior ministry figures this month, Italy now has 148,000 asylum seekers in reception centres, compared with 103,000 in 2015 and 66,000 in 2014.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday to "win back trust" of voters over the handling of the migrant crisis after her party lost against the right-wing populist AfD in state elections.

"Everyone now needs to think about how we can win back trust -- most of all, of course, myself," Merkel said, speaking on the sidelines of a G20 summit in China a day after the election in her home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

She stressed that "I am deeply dissatisfied with the outcome of the election," conceding that it had been dominated by the influx of one million asylum seekers last year and the question of how to integrate them in society.

She said that, as chancellor and party chief, "of course I am also responsible" but insisted that opening Germany's borders to a mass influx of refugees and migrants a year ago was fundamentally the right decision.

"We now have a rapidly falling number of arriving refugees," she said, as Europe's top economy expects a total of 300,000 arrivals this year.

"I consider the fundamental decisions as right, but there is much to be done to win back trust, and the topic of integration will play a huge role, as well the repatriation of those who don't gain residency rights."

G20 agrees refugees a global issue: statement
Hangzhou, China (AFP) Sept 5, 2016 - The G20 group agreed at their summit in China that refugees are a global issue and the burden must be shared, the leaders declared in a joint communique Monday.

"Worldwide massive forced displacement of people, unprecedented since the Second World War, especially those generated from violent conflicts, is a global concern," they said at the end of their two-day gathering in the scenic eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

The Group of 20 -- which together account for 85 percent of the world economy and two-thirds of its population -- reiterated their call from last year's summit in Turkey for "global concerted efforts in addressing the effects, protection need and root causes of refugee crisis to share in the burden associated with it".

The group called for strengthening humanitarian assistance for refugees and invited all states "according to their individual capacity" to ramp up aid to international organisations assisting affected countries.

A steady stream of refugees has flowed into Europe over the last year, largely fleeing the civil war in Syria.

EU President Donald Tusk said on the first day of G20 Europe was "close to limits" on its ability to accept new waves of refugees and urged the broader international community to shoulder its share of the burden.

The issue has become a political flashpoint for leaders in the region as a series of Islamist terror attacks and rising anti-globalisation sentiment have combined to create an increasingly inhospitable environment for refugees from the brutal conflict.

The group's communique called for increasing efforts to "find durable solutions", particularly for "protracted refugee situations".

Earlier a senior EU diplomat told AFP that G20 was making a strong stand, and had overcome initial reluctance from Argentina and Brazil on including the issue in the communique, but noted it was not a binding commitment.

"There is a difference between commitment and enforcement... at least, it's here," he said.

"Of course we have to take into account the fact that it is a sovereignty issue... it is not an obligation, but the burden-sharing is there."

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