Croatia closes Serbia border crossings

Croatia closes border crossings with Serbia after massive influx of refugees

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees protest at the Tovarnik railway station, Croatia on September 18, 2015

Croatia closed seven of its eight road border crossings with Serbia following a massive influx of refugees, the interior ministry said. Only the Bajakovo crossing, which is between Belgrade and Zagreb, appeared to be open to traffic on Friday.

Late on Thursday, Croatian police announced that they had halted all traffic at seven border crossings.

"The measure is valid until further notice," police said in a statement.

The refugees headed for Croatia after Hungary closed its border with Serbia. More than 10,000 entered Croatia the day following the closure. Officials in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, said that they had no choice except to close the border.

After the closure, refugees kept coming from Serbia on Friday. Croatian police took them to the Tovarnik railway station on the Croatian side of the border. Thousands of refugees were stranded at night, at the station on Croatia’s eastern frontier with Serbia. Some of them continued to travel and reached Slovenia overnight.

Refugees at a railway station, near the Slovenian-Croatian border on September 17, 2015

Meanwhile, Slovenia announced on Thursday that they had halted a train from Croatia carrying refugees on the Slovenian side of the border. Almost 150 of them would be returned to Zagreb, due to the lack of necessary documents for travel.

Slovenian news agency STA reported that all train traffic was temporarily stopped between Slovenia and Croatia until Firday morning, from the Slovenian side.

Croatia declared it would ensure refugees unimpeded passing through on their way to other European countries. However, the Hungarian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic warned that the country’s resources were “limited” for coping with the huge influx of refugees.

On Thursday, Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic warned that Croatia would block the the border with Serbia if the influx of refugees continued to come to the country that was “absoulutely full.”

"Don't come here any more. Stay in refugee centres in Serbia and Macedonia and Greece. This is not the road to Europe. Buses can't take you there. It's a lie," Ostojic said.

The president of Croatia said that they prepared the military to stop the refugees trying to cross the Western Balkans to seek asylum in the bloc.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that Hungary started to build up a razor-wire fence along the border with Croatia to stand off refugees from the country.

Orban said that the fence would be 41-kilometres (25 mile) long and the first phase of it would be completed on Friday.

He told the state radio that he would deploy hundreds of soldiers and police to defend the border with Croatia and construct the fence.

Hungary’s border with Serbia is already closed by Hungarian police on the border.

On Wednesday, Hungarian riot police fired tear gas and water cannons on hundreds of refugees gathered on the Hungarian-Serbian border in an attempt to push them back from the border.


TRTWorld and agencies