PARIS – The Latest on migrants seeking sanctuary in Europe (all times local):
France's top security official said investigators have dismantled 25 migrant smuggling networks in the country's north in the past year.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said about 700 people were involved in the networks in the Calais region, temporary home to about 4,000 migrants camped in squalid conditions on the edge of the Channel in hopes of slipping across to a better life in England.
Speaking Thursday to Europe 1 radio, Cazeneuve also defended his ban on protests in Calais, which he said was imposed in response to a demonstration in support of migrants that ended with a group of people breaking into the port and boarding a ship. He said the unrest showed the risks were too great of confrontations involving both pro-migrant activists, and extremists on the right.
The German government says more than 91,000 asylum seekers arrived last month, underlining the pressure the country faces to diminish the influx of migrants.
The Interior Ministry said Thursday that 91,671 people were registered as asylum seekers in January. That's lower than the 127,320 who arrived in December; officials have said that winter weather was the driving force behind the decline.
In all, Germany saw nearly 1.1 million people arrive last year, and officials are keen to ensure that the figures are lower this year. Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that diplomacy is the key to a solution, and has resisted pressure for unilateral measures such as a cap on refugee numbers. However, the government has moved to toughen asylum policies.