Child's body found on Greek shore as Europe copes with migrant influx

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The body of a young child that washed up on the Greek island of Kos Sunday is a symbol of the continued danger thousands of refugees are facing as they flee war torn Syria and Afghanistan for European shores.

Greece's coast guard said late Sunday the decomposing body of a young child-- between 3 and 5 years old-- was found washed up on a beach in Kos. It was unclear when the child, dressed in blue trousers and a pink top, had died.

The coast guard says it rescued 1,743 refugees or migrants over the weekend in 57 separate search and rescue operations near eastern Aegean islands.

Spanish rescue services say they have intercepted 301 migrants trying to reach Spain from Morocco in 12 boats over the past three days.

The service said that between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 it helped rescue some 4,188 migrants, 2,307 of whom were taken to Morocco by marine services from that country.

African migrants seeking a better life in Europe often try to reach Spain by crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Morocco. Tens of thousands of migrants also try to make it to Italy and Greece from north Africa and the Middle East each year.

Even if they arrive safely, many immigrants face uncertainty and danger in a new land. Greek authorities say they have freed 34 men, women and children who allegedly had been locked up in a cramped central Athens apartment by a mostly Afghan gang of extortionists that preyed on newly arrived immigrants.

Greece is the main arrival point for hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants seeking a better life in wealthy European countries. Most pay smugglers to bring them in frail boats from Turkey to the Greek islands, and then converge on Athens before heading off overland through the Balkans.

Police said Monday that the suspect offered Afghan migrants accommodation, bus tickets and forged documents. But those migrants ultimately faced imprisonment and beatings unless they paid the gang.

A spokeswoman for the EU's border agency says it is seeking hundreds of additional border guards to help in the task of identifying migrants that are arriving in Europe.

Ewa Moncure said Monday that Frontex appealed to EU and Schengen members last week to jointly provide 775 experts in identification and interpreters. They would be deployed this month to Greece and Italy, which are taking the brunt of the migrant wave.

The agents would reinforce the procedure of identifying people who qualify for political asylum, like Syrians and Afghanis, and economic migrants, who will be returned home. The current numbers of border guards are insufficient to meet the migrant wave of some 420,000 people so far this year.

Thousands of people seeking asylum in Europe are streaming into Hungary from Croatia as they search for paths toward Germany and other destinations in Western Europe. Several European countries are working together to help handle the influx of thousands of migrants streaming into these countries daily.

The Czech Republic is sending a unit of 25 soldiers to Hungary to help protect the external border of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone. Interior ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland will discuss further possible ways of helping Hungary, where about 300,000 migrants have arrived this year.

Poland has sent a helicopter and crew to Hungary to help patrol the border with Croatia. The mission is part of effort by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to beef up borders in face of the pressure from immigrants.

Joanna Rokicka, spokeswoman for Poland's Border Guards, said Monday that a Border Guard chopper with eight crew members and one liaison officer was sent to Hungary on Sunday. The mission continues through Friday.

Separate talks on more aid to help protect Hungarian border are being held ahead of Oct. 8 meeting of interior ministers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

Meanwhile, leaders from the European Union and Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Brussels Monday to fine-tune a plan to help Ankara cope better with refugees from Syria and Iraq and limit the flow of people leaving to Europe.

Tens of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty have been crossing from Turkey into Greece in the hope of finding better lives in Europe, and the EU wants Ankara to do more to stop them setting out.

The European Commission hopes to generate around 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) in European funds to help lessen the impact of refugee arrivals on Turkey, which is a candidate for EU membership. A commission team was also due in Turkey later Monday to assess cooperation on the ground.

Turkey hosts around 2 million refugees, many from Syria and Iraq.

Immigration officials in Sweden say that the number of migrants who arrived last month more than doubled over the previous month to 24,000, bringing this year's number at the end of September to more than 73,000. In neighboring Finland, officials said some 11,000 asylum-seekers arrived last month, bringing this year's figure to more than 19,600. In Norway, the number of migrants grew fourfold last month to 4,900 compared with September 2014, with 13,250 so far this year.

One surprising development is the growing numbers of Syrian refugees returning to their ravaged homeland from Jordan, because they can't survive in exile. Many say drastic aid cuts, the high price of smugglers and homesickness have caused them to come back.

The returns, along with the increasing migration to Europe, signal that conditions in regional host countries have become increasingly intolerable, the refugees and aid officials said.

More than 4 million Syrians fled civil war in their country, now in its fifth year. Most settled in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, a majority living in urban areas. Banned from working legally, they depend on aid and odd jobs. Recent aid cuts by underfunded agencies, particularly the World Food Program, have been devastating.

"We stopped getting any aid," said 47-year-old Adnan, waiting at the U.N.-run Zaatari refugee camp in northern Jordan to sign up his family for the return bus to the Syrian border, about 6 miles away.

“It is a dangerous choice for people to make," said Andrew Harper, head of the U.N. refugee agency in Jordan. He said the return of refugees, mainly women and children, to war-torn Syria "signals a failure of the international protection regime."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.