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News 26 Oct 15

Balkans to Accommodate 100,000 Refugees

Balkan and Central European leaders agreed in Brussels that 50,000 refugees will be accommodated in camps in Greece with another 50,000 in Western Balkan states.

Sven Milekic
BIRN
Zagreb
Meeting of the leader from Central and South-Eastern Europe in Brussels. | Photo: BETAPHOTO

An agreement was reached at the high-level meeting in Brussels on Sunday to temporary accommodate 100,000 refugees in the Balkans as Europe struggles to cope with the ongoing influx.

“Some 100,000 places in reception centres will be provided along the Balkans migrant route starting in Greece to help the EU cope better with the historic influx,” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday.

Greece will accommodate 50,000 refugees in camps, while another 50,000 will be housed in Western Balkans states, leaders from Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Germany agreed at the meeting.

For those to be accommodated in Greece, Athens will establish the facilities to host the first 30,000 by the end of the year, while the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, will prepare to host the other 20,000.

The plan also envisages that officials from the EU border agency, FRONTEX, will be deployed at all borders between EU and non-EU Balkan states to ensure that refugees are properly registered.

FRONTEX officials will work on the borders between Croatia and Serbia and between Greece and Macedonia in order that regulations are more strictly observed.

The aim of measures is to slow down the refugee influx until a deal is made with Ankara to accommodate more Middle Eastern refugees in Turkey.

Agreements were also made that refugees who do not wish to seek international protection are not allowed to cross borders, and that each country should inform its neighbour when transporting refugees to certain locations along the borders.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that FRONTEX should contribute to slowing down the influx of refugees in to Croatia.

“If it’s going to be like this [with FRONTEX officials on Croatia’s border with Serbia], it will be good, and if not, we will control the situation until the story is over,” Milanovic said.

Record numbers of refugees entered Croatia over the weekend – the largest amount since they started using the country as a transit route in mid-September. On Saturday, 11,500 refugees entered Croatia, while on Sunday up to 9pm, 8,979 refugees.

A total of 251,906 refugees have entered Croatia since September 16.

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