Thousands of migrants are entering Slovenia from Croatia after Hungary shut another border, as those fleeing the war zone in Syria seek a new route into northern Europe. More refugees are expected to arrive later with most of them eyeing Austria and Germany as their final destinations.
Slovenian authorities have made travel arrangements for the 2,700 migrants, who include women and children, to reach Austria. Slovenia's troops are on standby in case the police force requires additional hands to manage the crisis. Scores of them have crossed Greece, Macedonia and Serbia in order to reach the Croatian border.
"Unlike other countries, Slovenia had time to prepare... It's not perfect, but things are moving," said UN refugee agency spokesperson Caroline van Buren, according to AFP news agency. "They are fleeing from war... they are literally running for their lives." The migrants have been redirected to Slovenia after the right-wing Hungarian government shut its border with Croatia, just like it did with the Serbian frontier in September.
"We are going to focus even more on safety and security and order so our country can function normally," said Slovenia's Prime Minister Miro Cerar. Slovenian authorities say they are sending the refugees in buses and trains to the Austrian frontier after registering them.
Slovenia, an EU member outside the ambit of the Schengen zone, has said it would be ready to receive the migrants so long as the borders with Austria and Germany are kept open. Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic told state broadcaster HRT: "Slovenia will not close its border unless Germany closes its border, in that case Croatia will have to do the same...There is no alternative."
Germany, which is being tested to its limits, cannot shut it borders completely, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily. She is also due in Turkey to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pressure Ankara to stop the flow of migrants.