The Latest: National service by refugees raised in Germany

The Latest: National service by refugees raised in Germany
Migrants aboard the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti gather on the deck as they await decisions in the port of Catania, Italy, Friday, Aug. 24 2018. An Italian lawmaker says rescued migrants stuck aboard an Italian coast guard ship are starting a hunger strike. Rescued on Aug. 16 in the Mediterranean Sea, 150 migrants are still on the ship after minors and the sick were allowed off in recent days. (Orietta Scardino/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):

11:00 a.m.

A top member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is suggesting Germany could introduce a one-year national service of some kind for refugees and asylum-seekers, which she says would help integration and increase Germans’ acceptance.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, made the suggestion in an interview Saturday with the Funke newspaper group.

It’s an extension of a discussion she launched this month on introducing a vaguely defined “general service obligation” for Germans, civilian or military, as a possible future policy. Germany scrapped military conscription in 2011.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said it’s worth discussing whether refugees also should spend a year performing some kind of service to the state. She said that “if refugees do such a year, voluntary or compulsory, that serves their integration into the state and society.”


10:45 a.m.

The United Nations’ refugee agency is imploring European Union countries to take responsibility for 150 migrants stranded aboard an Italian coast guard ship and urging Italy to let the migrants off the ship immediately.

The Diciotti rescued the migrants from a trafficker’s boat on Aug. 16. The ship has been docked in Sicily for days, and Italy’s government is refusing to let it disembark passengers unless other EU nations pledge to take them.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged European countries in a statement Saturday “to do the right thing and offer places of asylum for people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in their time of need.”

Grandi said from Geneva that it’s time to end “a race to the bottom on who can take the least responsibility for people rescued at sea.”