More than 13,000 migrants and refugees have entered Slovenia since Monday and the country says it is considering building a fence to stop the flow
Slovenia said on Tuesday it would deploy the army to guard its border and appealed for help from the European Union as migrants entered the country and thousands spent another cold night outside in the Balkans.
Attempts by Slovenia to ration the flow of migrants since Hungary sealed its border with Croatia at midnight on Friday have triggered a knock-on effect through the Balkans, with thousands held up at border crossings.
At least 12,100 migrants were currently in Serbia, the prime minister said on Tuesday, and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported at least 2,500 migrants stranded in no-man’s-land between Croatia and Serbia.
By late morning on Tuesday, 5,000 migrants had entered Slovenia, after some 8,000 in total had crossed the border on Monday, the Slovenian interior ministry said.
Bostjan Sefic, interior state secretary, said he could not exclude the possibility of «safeguarding border crossings with physical obstacles», as he responded to a Reuters question about whether Slovenia would follow Hungary’s example in setting up a fence.
Slovenia, which borders Croatia, Hungary, Austria and Italy, has a population of two million people.
«Therefore Slovenia publicly calls upon the [EU] member states and the European institutions to actively engage in taking over this burden,» the government said.
At the Berkasovo border crossing between Serbia and Croatia, Jamal, a 50-year-old Syrian from the city of Tartus, spent the night at the border crossing with his daughter and wife.
«It was very cold, very, very cold, we are shivering, we received some food, but (there were) no tents for everybody, so we slept under a van, they gave us blankets,» Jamal said.
Astrid Coyne-Jensen, a programme coordinator with the Danish People’s Aid humanitarian organisation, said that its medical team treated around 150 people from late Monday until Tuesday morning.
«Mainly we had flu-like infections, sore throats, fevers, unlike in the summer when we were treating blisters and foot injuries. People are mainly seeking immediate help to relieve symptoms as they are in a hurry, they rarely stop for a prolonged intervention,» she said.
In the morning, hundreds of people bypassed a border checkpoint and police cordon, and walked straight into Croatia along a path between an orchard and a vineyard.
Croatian authorities said more than 2,000 people were sheltered in the Opatovac camp near the border. From there. buses were taking them to the nearest train station in Tovarnik or straight to the Slovenian border.
Croatia’s interior minister said his country was trying to coordinate the transfer of migrants with Slovenia, which has accused its neighbour of failing to manage the relentless flow of people.
Ranko Ostojic told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Croatia had asked Slovenian police on Monday where they wanted to receive the migrants, but had yet to receive a reply.
Mr Ostojic said Croatia expects Slovenia every day to take in half of the migrants arriving in Croatia.
Mr Ostojic said: «If we are receiving 10,000, then 5,000 people have to be transited to Slovenia. If the number in Croatia is 5,000 then it’s 2,500, or 50 per cent.»
Slovenia said it could not handle more than 2,500 per day.
Mr Ostojic said that over 204,000 migrants had reached Croatia this year, with 2,600 of them now in refugee camps and 2,500 waiting in the village of Bapska, where they arrived from Serbia, to be taken by bus to the border with Slovenia.
On Monday, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said many more migrants were on their way to Serbia from Macedonia.