Thursday 14 December 2017

Slovenian army is deployed to stem the flow of refugees

A mounted policeman leads a group of refugees as Slovenia sent in the army to deal with the crisis
A mounted policeman leads a group of refugees as Slovenia sent in the army to deal with the crisis

Slovenia has deployed the army to guard its border, as thousands of refugees streamed in to the tiny country from the south, and said it may resort to "physical barriers" like neighbouring Hungary if the number of arrivals continues to grow.

About 19,500 migrants have entered Slovenia since Friday, the Interior Ministry said, when Hungary sealed its southern border. This created bottlenecks at Balkan border crossings as refugees attempted to find new routes through the region.

The government has pleaded for help from the EU, saying Slovenia, with a population of two million people, is too small to cope with the flow of refugees.

Interior Secretary of State Bostjan Sefic said he could not exclude the possibility of "safeguarding border crossings with physical obstacles".

Sefic told a news conference that a total of 140 soldiers had been sent to the border.


Over 500,000 refugees have arrived by sea in Greece this year and the rate of arrivals is rising. Over 8,000 came on Monday alone in a rush to beat the onset of winter, the United Nations said yesterday.

A vast majority of them will head to Macedonia and then cross to Serbia, looking to reach Western Europe via Croatia and Slovenia, avoiding the previous route through Hungary.

Attempts by Slovenia to ration the flow of refugees since Hungary sealed its border with Croatia on Friday has triggered a knock-on effect through the Balkans, with thousands held up at border crossings.

At least 12,000 migrants are currently in Serbia, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said yesterday, and the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported at least 2,500 migrants were stranded in a 'no man's land' between Croatia and Serbia overnight in cold temperatures.

At the Berkasovo border between Serbia and Croatia, Jamal, a 50-year-old Syrian, spent the night with his family.

"It was very cold, we are shivering. We slept under a van, they gave us blankets," Jamal said.

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