News 20 Oct 15

Slovenia Deploys Military to Handle Refugee Flow

Slovenia is to send its army to its borders with Croatia, to help manage the influx of refugees coming from over the frontier.

Sven Milekic, Igor Jovanovic
BIRN
Zagreb
Children by the fire in Berkasovo. | Photo by BETAPHOTO/AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

 Slovenia will deploy its military to the border with Croatia in order to help the Slovene police manage the influx of refugees coming into the country.

The government agreed on Tuesday to push for a new amended law on defence, which would allow for the deployment of troops along the border with Croatia and also give the military some police jurisdictions. Parliament will vote on the law on Tuesday, with the law entering into force immediately.

Slovenia said 8,000 refugees had entered the country on Monday.

The refugee route to Western Europe has been diverted from Hungary to Slovenia since Hungary closed its informal illegal border crossings on Friday at midnight.

The Croatian authorities are now transporting refugees from eastern Croatia, from the border with Serbia, to the northern border with Slovenia.

Refugees waiting in the cold in Berkasovo. | Photo by BETAPHOTO/AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

 Meanwhile, as the process of receiving refugees has slowed down, a "bottleneck" has formed on the border between Croatia and Serbia.

Some 2,000 refugees spent the night in the cold in Berkasovo in Serbia, on the border with Croatia, while thousands keep on coming.

Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said on Tuesday that the management of the refugee situation depended on the actions of other countries.

“If Germany closes the borders, all the borders will close in a row. What will we do then? Leave hundreds of thousands of people in Serbia to explode?” she asked, stressing the situation’s urgency.

Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia's minister in charge of refugees, on Monday said that Serbia “cannot and will not” be a reception centre for all refugees arriving from the Middle East.

"Serbia is entitled to protect its territory and to decide on the number of people located in it. Those who find themselves here will receive all possible forms of care - temporary accommodation, food, medicine, like they have done so far," Vulin said.

He added that around 7,000 refugees were on Serbian territory on Monday and said that food as well as medical assistance had been provided for them at the border crossings, and a large number of tents would also be provided.

Meanwhile Nebojsa Stefanovic, the Serbian Interior Minister, said that Serbia would send a protest note to Croatia because he claimed several Croatian police officers entered Serbian territory on Monday and attacked photographers working for Reuters, AFP and Al-Jazeera.

He said that the incident had happened at the Bapska-Berkasovo border crossing after Croatian police tried to stop migrants who entered Croatia illegally.

Stefanovic said that the Croatian police crossed 50 metres into Serbia.

"We shall seek an explanation from the Croatian side. Serbia wants the normalization of relations, not incidents, and actions such as these are not neighbourly," Stefanovic concluded.

The Croatian Interior Ministry claimed that the two journalists on the Bapska-Berkasovo border between Serbia and Croatia joined a wave of migrants, and so entered Croatia using an illegal crossing.

According to the Croatian interior ministry, in the first 21 hours on Monday, 3,397 refugees had entered Croatia, while on Tuesday another 2,558 had entered Croatia by 9am. Since September 16, 204,126 refugees have entered Croatia.

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