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Dhaka Tribune

Croatia diverts migrants to Slovenia after Hungary border closure

Update : 17 Oct 2015, 06:31 PM

Migrants streaming across the Balkans reached Slovenia on Saturday, diverted overnight by the closure of Hungary’s border with Croatia in the latest demonstration of Europe’s disjointed response to the flow of people reaching its borders.

Hungary’s right-wing government declared its southern frontier with Croatia off limits to migrants, blocking entry with a metal fence and razor wire just as it did a month ago on its border with Serbia.

Croatia began directing migrants west to Slovenia, which said hundreds had arrived already and more were on their way.

Slovenia said they would be registered before continuing their journey to Austria and Germany, the preferred destination of the vast majority, many of them Syrians fleeing war.

But their movement had slowed visibly, with dozens of buses lined up at Serbia’s border with Croatia through the night and into Saturday as Croatian police controlled their entry, a Reuters reporter said. Slovenia suspended rail traffic with Croatia, saying it needed “complete control” over the flow.

Aid agencies are concerned about backlogs of migrants building in the Balkans, battered by autumn winds and rain as temperatures drop before winter. Hungary said it had reinstated border controls on its frontier with Slovenia, effectively suspending Europe’s Schengen system of passport-free travel though it said it was acting within the Schengen rules. Both Slovenia and Hungary are part of the Schengen Area while Croatia is not.

A government spokesman said Budapest had taken the step because “migrants appeared” on the Slovenian side of the border.

Hungary says it is duty-bound to protect the borders of the European Union from the tide of migrants, most of them Muslims who Hungary says threaten the prosperity, security and “Christian values” of Europe.

With several other ex-Communist members of the EU, Hungary opposes a plan by the bloc to share out 120,000 refugees among its members. That is only a small proportion of the 700,000 migrants expected to reach Europe’s shores by boat and dinghy from North Africa and Turkey this year, many of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

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