About 500 migrants have been stranded at a Christian Orthodox cemetery in no man’s land between Serbia and Croatia.
Croatian police on Thursday blocked their entry from Serbia near the Tovarnik border crossing, which has been one of the main entry points for migrants as they seek to continue their hazardous journey toward Western Europe. The influx of mainly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans has caused tensions between Balkan rivals Serbia and Croatia, with countries criticizing each other over border closures and traffic blockades. Croatia is blaming Serbia for busing migrants to the Croatian border, instead of channeling them further north toward Hungary.[related-post]
Croatian police say more than 51,000 migrants have entered the country since they first started arriving more than a week ago.
Police say 3,500 people crossed Thursday morning into Croatia from Serbia around Tovarnik, where migrants have been coming in through nearby cornfields.
The influx has caused tensions between the Balkan rivals, with countries slamming each other with border closures and traffic blockades. The migrants began entering Croatia after Hungary closed its border on Sept. 15.
Croatia says it’s so overwhelmed that authorities have been shipping the migrants toward Hungary or Slovenia. Most want to travel on to wealthier nations in Western Europe such as Germany or Sweden.
Meanwhile, Hungarian troops have started laying down spools of razor wire at a new border — this time, a crossing with Slovenia.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs told The Associated Press on Thursday that the razor wire was being installed near a checkpoint between the Hungarian village of Tornyiszentmiklos and Pince, Slovenia.
State television showed soldiers in thick protective gloves installing the razor wire across hundreds of meters (yards) on the Slovenian border.
Kovacs called it a precautionary measure. But both Hungary and Slovenia are part of the European Union’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel, so, theoretically at least, there’s no need for border checks or fences between them.
Hungary has already built a 4-meter (13-feet) high fence on its border with Serbia and hopes to finish a similar barrier on the Croatian border shortly. Preparations are also underway to extend the fence along the Romanian border as well.
The fence has succeeded in stopping most migrants from entering Hungary from Serbia but over 10,000 entered Hungary from Croatia on Wednesday.