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The Latest: German Party Wants Deal to Return Syria Refugees

The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

A German nationalist party is urging officials to open negotiations with President Bashar Assad’s government on an accord to enable the return of Syrian refugees.

In one of its first motions since entering parliament, Alternative for Germany argued Wednesday that security in Syria has “substantially improved” recently. Chief whip Bernd Baumann said the Islamic State group has been “practically defeated” and it’s possible for people to return to much of Syria.

More than 1 million asylum-seekers arrived in Germany in 2015-2016, many of them Syrians.

Baumann’s party has benefited from discontent with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to let in large numbers of migrants. He said its motion offered “an opportunity to correct, at least in part, the Merkel government’s catastrophic open border policy.”

The motion was sent to a committee for further consideration.

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4:40 p.m.

Spanish authorities have come under fire for putting nearly 500 newly arrived migrants in a yet-to-be-opened prison.

In a statement, 22 rights and migrant aid groups rejected the measure, saying it was illegal and criminalized migrants.

Spain’s Council of Lawyers also condemned the move and demanded that the migrants be taken to non-penitentiary centers.

The Interior Ministry said that owing to the sudden arrival of some 1,000 migrants by boat from north Africa between Nov. 17-19, judges authorized the transfer of 497 to the Archidona jail in southern Spain because its migrant holding centers were already near full.

The ministry said it was an “exceptional and temporary measure” and the prison would not be opened while the migrants, mostly Algerian, were lodged there.

Authorities must repatriate or free the migrants within 60 days.

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4:35 p.m.

Twenty international and Greek rights groups and charities called on the Greek government Wednesday to end the policy of keeping migrants and refugees arriving from Turkey stuck on Greek islands.

Expressing “urgent concern” over severe overcrowding, the organizations said many migrants were being forced to live in summer tents as the winter weather descends.

“Nothing can justify trapping people in these terrible conditions on the islands for another winter,” Eva Cosse, Greece researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a joint press release with the other agencies.

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12:40 p.m.

Greek police say the body of a man believed to be a migrant has been found in an abandoned building in a mountainous border area in northern Greece.

Police said the man, believed to have been between 20 and 30 years old and of either African or Asian descent, was found on Tuesday in the building outside a mountain village in the Evros region. They said there were no signs of violence or that he had been killed. An autopsy would be needed to determine the cause of death.

The region is on a migrant smuggling route, with people crossing the border illegally from Turkey and then trying to make their way on through the Balkans to other European countries.

Source: US News & World Report

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