Croatia has been forced to close nearly all of its borders with Serbia as it struggles to cope with a sudden surge of migrants desperate to cross into the EU.
“Our capacity is absolutely full, we are asking from them that all the countries on the way, on the route – that means Greece, Macedonia and Serbia – they have to respect all contracts, all memorandums, all conventions”. Autho-rities warned them to avoid walking in areas along the Serbian border that were still being demined from the country’s 1991-95 war.
Adding to the country’s burden, Slovenian police have said they’ll return to Croatia some 150 migrants on a train halted on the Slovenian side of the border.
Croatia has become the latest European country to feel the pressure of Europe’s migrant crisis as thousands of refugees pour in. It will receive asylum requests, but not create a “corridor” for refugees to simply pass through Slovenia into Austria. They finally gave up and the migrants started running into Croatia.
As crowds of refugees attempted to cross the border into Croatia, clashes broke out with Croatian police in the towns of Tovarnik and Bezdan.
Croatia said it might have to use the army to stop thousands of migrants criss-crossing the western Balkans in their quest for sanctuary.
Slovenia Prime Minister Miro Cerar tweeted Thursday that his country is committed to protecting the EU’s external borders.
“(Hungary) has obligations to follow, which it looks like this new legislation would be a contravention of … both the global United Nations conventions on the status of refugees, but also European Union legislation regarding asylum and also regarding criminal procedures”, said Magdalena Majkowska-Tomkin, the head of the IOM’s Hungary office. It proved a false alarm and everyone sat down again.
Croatia, which had largely avoided the attention of refugees moving westwards, found itself overwhelmed after neighbouring Hungary shut its own borders.
Hungary’s crackdown has shifted pressure onto Croatia, Slovenia and Romania.
The crossing on the main road linking Belgrade and Zagreb – at Bajakovo – appeared to be the only one left open. Baton-wielding police responded with tear gas and water cannons, and migrants threw rocks and other objects at the police.
Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto lashed out against the strong criticism the country has faced internationally – including comments from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called Hungary’s response unacceptable.
He said 6,500 had entered in the past 24 hours.