Migrants’ backlog in Balkans

Berkasovo/LJjubljana, October 19

The Balkans struggled with a growing backlog of migrants today as thousands of people waited on cold, wet borders after Hungary closed its southern frontier and diverted them to Slovenia.

Slovenia imposed a daily limit of 2,500, forcing fellow European Union member Croatia to also ration entry from Serbia, which the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said was hosting more than 10,000 migrants today, with more on the way.

“It’s like a big river of people, and if you stop the flow, you will have floods somewhere. That’s what’s happening now,” UNHCR spokesman Melita Sunjic said from the Serbia-Croatia border, where about 2,000 people were stranded in desperate and deteriorating conditions.

Groups of migrants fought with each other in the morning, aid workers said, after a night spent under open skies lashed by autumn wind and rain. “Open the gate, open the gate!” they chanted, their passage barred by lines of Croatian police who erected an improvised fence to control access.

Slovenia found itself dragged into the path of the greatest migration of people in Europe since World War Two after Hungary sealed its border with Croatia to migrants on Friday.

A country of two million people bordering Hungary, Italy, Austria and Croatia, Slovenia said it would only allow in as many as it could register, accommodate and send on to Austria.