BERLIN – Chancellor Angela Merkel planned to discuss Europe's migrant crisis with her coalition partners Sunday, as Syrians, Iraqis and others fleeing war and persecution streamed into Germany for the second straight day.
The Christian Social Union, the socially-conservative wing of Merkel's center-right bloc, has criticized the decision to open Germany's borders to migrants and refugees stuck in Hungary, the dpa news agency reported.
Meanwhile, the center-left Social Democrats, the third member of Merkel's three-party coalition, urged swift humanitarian help for those trekking through Europe in search of a better life.
"No decent person can remain cold and dismissive in the face of such suffering," said Thomas Oppermann, a senior Social Democrat.
He added that refugees should be fairly distributed in Europe, and countries should not avoid their responsibilities. "Whoever refuses to do their part calls into question whether they can be part of Europe."
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement Sunday that several dozen mayors have offered to help house refugees in recent days, and convened a national meeting to organize refugee housing on Sept. 12. France is trying to speed up the process for seeking asylum and to better welcome refugees. Many asylum seekers in France have no place to live and sleep in make-shift camps, from Paris to Calais.
"If the German government had a little bit of courage it would at least ask the United States, as the main cause of the refugee tragedy, to pay some of the costs"
German officials have been particularly angry at Hungary for encouraging migrants to keep traveling westward, instead of providing them with adequate shelter and the chance to apply for asylum there.
Thousands arrived in Germany by way of Austria by train, bus and car on Saturday. Most went to Munich, the Bavarian capital, where authorities said some 7,000 people were registered and over half received a bed for the night.
Special trains also took 570 people to the Thuringian town of Saalfeld. More than half of them were taken onward to Dresden, where a school for German army officers has been cleared to provide temporary shelter for 350 newcomers.
Other trains brought migrants to Hamburg in the north and Dortmund in the west of the country, while more than 300 people traveled to the capital Berlin on specially chartered buses.
At each stop the migrants were received with cheers, bags of food and toys for the children.
Most Germans have been welcoming of the migrants. But far-right groups have protested their arrival, including in Dortmund overnight.
Chancellor Merkel has warned that extremist groups might try to take advantage of the situation to stoke people's prejudices against refugees. Authorities estimate that up to 800,000 people could apply for asylum in Germany by the end of the year.
Germany's opposition Left Party, meanwhile, said the United States was to blame for the migrant crisis originating in the Middle East because it had indirectly supported terrorist groups in the region.
"If the German government had a little bit of courage it would at least ask the United States, as the main cause of the refugee tragedy, to pay some of the costs," dpa quoted Sahra Wagenknecht, a senior Left Party lawmaker, as saying.
Pope Francis is asking faithful throughout Europe to shelter refugees fleeing "death from war and hunger."
Francis said Sunday that the Vatican's two parishes are taking in two families of refugees. He gave no details as he addressed tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square.
Francis said it's not enough to say, "Have courage, hang in there," to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are on the march toward what he called "life's hope."
He called on every Catholic parish, convent, monastery and sanctuary in Europe to shelter a family, and asked bishops throughout Europe to urge their dioceses to do the same.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised European Union countries helping the refugees streaming into the 28-nation bloc and urged others to step up their efforts.
On the Greek island of Lesbos, police have used batons to beat back a demonstration by some 300 migrants chanting "Athena, Athena" as they tried to come out of the port area. Several of the protesters were injured in the clash, with one taken away unconscious by an ambulance.
The migrants, mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans, say that local authorities on the Aegean island are not processing them quickly enough so they can continue their journey to western Europe. They also complain that authorities on Lesbos are not offering them any help and that they are fast running out of money.
The clashes early Sunday were the third in as many days between migrants and police. The demonstration on Sunday was led by Afghans.
Authorities in Cyprus say they have rescued 114 people believed to be refugees fleeing war-torn Syria after their fishing boat issued a distress call some 46 miles (74 kilometers) off the east Mediterranean island nation's southern coast.
Cyprus police said Sunday that all 114 people, including Palestinians from Syria, are in good health. They include 19 women, 30 children, 5 infants and 60 men.