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Merkel calls for greater effort to address migration causes

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, lays a wreath together with former prisoner Arno Drefke as she visits the former Stasi prison in Berlin-Hohenschoenhausen, Germany. Merkel says the government is committed to helping maintain the memorial at a former East German secret police prison, calling it an "authentic and painful" reminder of communist era excesses. Picture: Wolfgang Kumm/AP

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel says that while a lot has been done to address the causes of mass migration and to slow the flow of refugees to Europe, there is still a lot more to do.

Ms Merkel famously opened Germany's doors to asylum-seekers in 2015.

Some 890,000 migrants entered the country that year, many fleeing civil war in Syria.

The numbers have dropped significantly since then, in a large part due to a deal the European Union struck with Turkey to keep migrants there.

Speaking yesterday with the heads of the United Nations refugee agency and the International Organisation for Migration, Ms Merkel said she hoped a similar arrangement could be worked out with Libya - another key launching point for Europe-bound migrants.

She says Germany is willing to increase aid for migrant facilities in Libya and promoting the north African nation's stability, but acknowledges "there's a lot that lies ahead for us".

Earlier, a court in southern Germany convicted three Syrian men over the drowning deaths of 13 migrants off the coast of Greece in September 2015.

Prosecutors accused the men of "professional smuggling of people resulting in death".

The court in Traunstein near the Austrian border sentenced the 27-year-old main defendant to four years in prison for organising the boat that was to take Syrian refugees from Turkey to the island of Lesbos. The boat struck a freighter shortly before reaching shore, killing 13 people.

Two children are still missing.

Judges sentenced the man who drove the boat to two years in prison.

A third man, who acted as a liaison for families, received a two-year suspended sentence.

The three defendants had come to Germany as refugees themselves.

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