Europe

The Latest: Greece searches for boat with up to 80 on board

The Latest on Europe's response to the large numbers of migrants seeking asylum and jobs on the continent: (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

Greek authorities have mounted a search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea off the country's southern coast after a report that a boat carrying dozens of migrants was in trouble.

The coast guard said three cargo ships sailing in the area were looking for the vessel, and three Greek patrol boats were heading for the area late Wednesday.

The coast guard said police in southern Greece received a phone call saying that the wooden boat carrying 60 to 80 people was in distress some 40 nautical miles southwest of the southern port of Kalamata.

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3:20 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is heading to Egypt and Tunisia this week to discuss migration and development in the North Africa nations.

Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday that Berlin is interested in helping Egypt strengthen its coastguard and clamp down on illegal trafficking across the Mediterranean, which leads to thousands of deaths each year.

Germany also intends to work together more closely with the two countries to curtail overall migration from Africa to Europe.

The German government will also talk about both Egypt and Tunisia taking back asylum-seekers who have been rejected in Germany.

Merkel will visit Egypt on Thursday and Tunisia on Friday. Beyond meeting the two countries' leaders, she will talk to religious leaders and members of civil society.

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2:30 p.m.

Human Rights Watch has accused Poland of endangering asylum-seekers who attempt to enter the country from Belarus by denying them the right to apply for asylum and returning them to its autocratic neighbor.

The human rights group said most of the asylum-seekers come from Chechnya but also include citizens of Tajikistan and Georgia. Up to 200-300 people tried to seek asylum in Poland each day in the spring and summer of 2016, while the numbers have fallen to 40 to 80 per day this winter.

Lydia Gall, the group's Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher, said: "Trapping families and others at the Belarus border and refusing to hear their asylum claims is no way for an EU state to behave."