Refugee crisis: SE Europe seals borders, halts trains

Migrants stranded in Croatia have been making renewed efforts to head north despite moves by Slovenia and Hungary to hold them back.


As refugees continued to stream into Croatia on Friday, the government announced that it will close its borders with Serbia.

“What else can we do?” You are welcome in Croatia and you can pass through Croatia. We want to go to Austria.

Another 124 migrants were detained by Libyan coastguard officials Friday as they were preparing to cross to Europe.

“They will have to get off at Hegyeshalom anyway”, a police officer was overheard telling a colleague, in reference to a town on Hungary’s border with Austria.

Later, at a news conference in Belgrade, Szijjarto criticized Croatia for “pushing the masses into committing criminal acts” by forcing them to enter Hungary. The president has told the military to be ready if called on to help stop the flow of people.

Croatia represents a longer and more hard route to the wealthier nations of the European Union, but those fleeing violence in their homelands, such as Syrians and Iraqis, had little choice.

Croatia, offering an overland route to Germany bypassing Hungary, found itself suddenly overwhelmed, and began sending migrants in trains and buses to Hungary.

Hungarian authorities said a train carrying more than 1,000 migrants and about 40 Croatian police had arrived unannounced.

“If migrants lodge applications for refugee status at us, we will accept and protect them”.

The human misery was evident in Croatian towns like Beli Manastir, near the border with Hungary.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people slept on a major motorway near Edirne in north-western Turkey, after Turkish police stopped them from crossing the border into Greece on Friday evening. The group, which included many women and children, stood in a no man’s land in the middle in the scorching heat for hours with little water or food. They came by taxi, bus and on foot; some Croatians picked people up by the side of the road and took them up to the border for free.

Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs branded Croatia’s foreign minister a liar after she claimed that the two member states had agreed to “provide a corridor” for the refugees.

Tension in the borderlands erupted this week when dozens of young migrants hurled stones and water bottles at Hungarian riot police, who blocked the frontier where a country road crosses from Serbia.

The majority was determined to avoid Hungary, as word had spread about its crackdown and treatment of migrants, but that is where many would end up going.

Another boat was spotted by a helicopter from European Union border agency Frontex sailing east of the Peloponnese peninsula with around 200 people of unknown nationality on board, the coastguard said.

Slovenian police pepper sprayed about 500 migrants at one bridge on the border, Associated Press reported.

The stubborn response has infuriated the leaders of other nations that are shouldering far more of the burden.

In the second quarter of this year, Hungary recorded the EU’s highest number of first-time applicants for asylum per capita-ahead of Austria, Sweden, and Germany-Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said on Friday.

“This was always a peaceful place and we lost that with the arrival of the migrants and the smugglers”, Attila said of his village of some 4,000 people. “So they need to do it together”.


He said it was absurd that Serbia respected European standards more than EU members. The global Organization for Migration puts those figures at 473,887 and 2,812. Some people in Italy have been waiting two years for rulings on their applications.

Europeans Shut Borders Block Bridges to Halt Migrant Surge story image