Migrant Balkan surge continues amid EU attempt to slow it
Belgrade, Serbia — The surge of migrants crossing the Balkans on their way to Western Europe continued unabated on Monday in the hours after European leaders reached an agreement to slow the flow that has heightened tension among nations along the route.
European Union leaders committed to helping the Balkans handle the flow of people making their way through the region en route to more prosperous countries. But with cold weather setting in and record numbers of people arriving, questions remain about whether that assistance can come quickly enough to make a difference
“This is a step in the right direction and now it is crucial to respect the commitments,” said Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, whose tiny Alpine nation has been overwhelmed by the flow since Hungary put up a fence on the border with Serbia and Croatia, diverting the flow to Slovenia.
Croatian police said Monday morning that more than 13,000 migrants arrived from Serbia in the past 24 hours, while Slovenian police reported nearly 10,000 arrivals from Croatia in the same period. Further west, some 3,500 people had to sleep outside in Austria in cold fall weather, while Germany said it had seen 15,000 arrivals over the weekend.
In a statement seeking to paper over deep divisions about how to handle the crisis, the leaders meeting in Brussels on Sunday committed to bolster the borders of Greece as it struggles to cope with the wave of refugees from Syria and beyond who cross over through Turkey. The leaders also decided that reception capacities should be boosted in Greece and along the Balkans migration route to shelter 100,000 more people as winter looms and additional EU border watchdog agency officials will be deployed to monitor the flow.
Sunday’s summit was called in response to a string of chaotic actions taken by countries along the route. With no real ability to control Greece’s porous island border or stop people leaving Turkey for sanctuary or jobs in Europe, the EU wants to restore some order and apply the brakes on those passing through.
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