Croatia says it can accept no more refugees; Hungary builds border fence

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Croatia’s Prime Minister said the country has been overwhelmed by an influx of refugees and migrants and has reached the point where it “can’t accept any more.”

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Sept. 18 said Croatia won’t become a “collection center” for refugees and migrants in Europe.

Migrants push through a police line in Tovarnik, Croatia on Sept. 17.  /AP/Marko Drobnjakovic
Migrants push through a police line in Tovarnik, Croatia on Sept. 17. /AP/Marko Drobnjakovic

“Croatia has been preparing for this. Croatia is taking them in, but our capacity is small. We can’t do it any more,” Milanovic said. “Over 13,000 people have entered Croatia in two days and a small number of them have left. We can’t control this and we can’t accept them any more because they exceed our capacity.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Sept. 18 accused Croatia of pushing migrants to break the law by “illegally” breaching Hungarian borders.

“Rather than respecting the laws in place in the EU, they (Croatia) are encouraging the masses to break the law, because illegally crossing a border is breaking the law,” Szijjarto said.

Meanwhile, Hungary began building a fence on its border with Croatia overnight to stem the flow of migrants and refugees. Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sept. 18 said he has deployed hundreds of soldiers and police to the border and that the fence would be finished on the 25-mile stretch of border where the two countries are not separated by a river by the end of the day on Sept. 18.

“We must implement the same measures as on the Serbian-Hungarian border,” Orban said.

Hungary has been the transit route for over 180,000 migrants this year.

On Sept. 16, migrants trying to cross from Serbia clashed with Hungarian police at the border crossing of Roszke. Orban referred to the incident as “an armed attack launched against Hungary and Hungarian police … from Serbian territory. Serbia did not prevent this attack, which started from Serbian territory, in any form … Serbian police were watching their Hungarian colleagues being attacked from Serbia,” Orban said.

“We can also see from the analysis …that this action was directed in Arabic and English, from loudspeakers, with organized media background,” Orban said, adding that it was evident that it was no longer just an immigration crisis, but a “threat, danger of terrorism.”

While some of the 14,000 refugees in Croatia have been taken to the Hungarian borders, others have been seen arriving in the capital Zagreb.

Croatian TV showed footage of 1,200 refugees arriving by train in the outskirts of Zagreb and getting on buses from there. The UK’s Guardian reported that they were being taken to the Zagreb Fair site, and Croatian media reported that a fight at Beli Manastir station took place between Syrian and Afghan refugees.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called for a binding agreement to share out migrants between EU countries to stop what he dubbed “asylum shopping,” AFP reports.

EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has urged members states to take 160,000 refugees from border countries Greece, Hungary and Italy, grappling with Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

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