Thousands of migrants stranded between Serbia and Croatia
Several thousand migrants remain stranded Monday along the Croatian-Serbian border. They spent a cold night with little food after Hungary shut down its crossing into Croatia Saturday.
About 2,000 people were sitting inside unheated buses Sunday, waiting to cross into Serbia on their way to the European Union.
Since Hungary closed off its border crossing with Croatia, the buses are now forced to take a much longer route through Slovenia. That country has decided to limit the number of migrants who can cross each day.
A spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency, Babar Baloch, said Hungary is only compounding the hardship of the migrants.
“The decision by Hungary to close its border has certainly added to the suffering and misery and the length of the journey for these desperate people. There will be challenges if the process becomes slow or we have a backlog of people,” he said.
While Slovenia says it has no plans right now to close its border, it is limiting the numbers of those who can cross each day to 2,500 to prevent the tiny EU member from becoming overwhelmed.
“We cannot accept a number of migrants larger than the number of those who will continue their journey. In a very short time, maybe in 10 days, we would have 35,000 migrants in Slovenia which is unacceptable for us,” Slovene Interior Ministry official Bostjan Sefic said Sunday.
The EU can expect around 700,000 migrants escaping war and poverty in places such as Syria and Afghanistan by the end of the year.
EU leaders have so far failed to come up with a firm plan on how to take care of these people and distribute them equitably among the 28 member states.
Many of the migrants arrive in Europe through Greece and Turkey. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is offering to help Turkey’s stalled EU membership efforts if Turkey agrees to do more to control its borders and take back some of the migrants turned away from other European states.
Merkel was in Turkey Sunday which is already taking care of more than 2 million refugees from war. She said the rest of Europe should help ease Turkey’s burden.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he would sign readmission agreements only if there is progress on liberalizing the EU visa regime for Turks.