After nearly 10,000 refugees and migrants entered Croatia in the past two days, the country has placed its army on alert to deploy on the country’s border with Serbia. People who were turned away by Hungary now see Croatia as an alternate route into European Union countries.
Reporting from the Croatia-Serbia border, Lauren Frayer spoke to Jamal al-Shahoud, a refugee from Syria, who told her, “Here no food, no water. No buses, no trains. Nothing here. Just tired.”
Lauren reports for our Newscast unit:
“Migrants and refugees keep streaming into Croatia after Hungary closed its borders. People broke through police lines and ran into the countryside.
“Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic visited the melee.
” ‘Croatia is under big pressure,’ he said. ‘This is extraordinary situation. In this moment I have to be on the front line.’
“Croatia has closed highways leading in from Serbia. And Hungary has started building a fence on its border with Croatia, in addition to two others along its borders with Serbia and Romania.”
The new developments come as Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic says that his country will not and cannot seal its border entirely. Instead, the country plans to try to usher people along to neighboring countries.
“What else can we do?” Milanovic said, according to The Associated Press. “You are welcome in Croatia and you can pass through Croatia. But, go on. Not because we don’t like you but because this is not your final destination.”
EU member nations are expected to meet next week to discuss their response to a crisis in which more than 440,000 refugees and other migrants have reached Europe this year. More than half of them have come from Syria, fleeing that country’s civil war.
On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees urged Europe to make changes, such as establishing reception centers in Greece (where more than 300,000 people have made their first landfall). The centers could register and screen those arriving, the U.N. agency said. It added that similar centers could be set up in Serbia to register and relocate the new arrivals.
The U.N. agency also called for each EU member nation to accept 40,000 refugees, in addition to the voluntary amounts to which they’ve already committed.