Refugee influx continues across Europe

Croatia records greatest number yet in refugee arrivals, as does Greece’s Lesbos island, while Slovakia announces it won't implement EU plan to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees stand behind a gate as they wait to board buses inside a registration camp in Opatovac, Croatia September 23, 2015

A total of 8,750 refugees entered Croatia on Tuesday, the highest number of refugees in a 24-hour span since they started entering the EU member country a week ago, according to an Interior Ministry statement released on Wednesday.

The ministry said the total number of refugees entering Croatia from Serbia reached 44,000 by 0700 GMT, but a specific time period wasn’t stated.

Croatia was drawn into the crisis after Hungary closed its border crossing with Serbia, which redirected thousands of asylum seekers there.

Hungary reopened its border a few days ago, with a razor-wire fence on its border with Croatia close to being finished.

Meanwhile, at least 2,500 refugees, most of them Afghans, arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos on Wednesday morning in just three hours, a Reuters photographer reported.

Around 40 rubber boats each carrying almost 70 people arrived on the island and some refugees experienced hypothermia. There were nine more boats seen in the distance bringing the total to 49, which is considered to be the highest number of arrivals in such a short period, the source said.

Hundreds of thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece's eastern islands this year, aiming to reach European countries.They are fleeing war, conflict and poverty in the Middle East.

The International Organization for Migration has recently estimated that 430,000 refugees and non-refugee migrants made their way across the Mediterranean to Europe since the beginning of the year, as 309,000 arrived through Greece.

Twenty-four members of the 28-member European Union approved a plan on Tuesday to distribute 120,000 refugees across the bloc, outvoting four eastern ex-communist countries - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania - with Finland abstaining.

Following the agreement, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Wednesday the country will go to court to challenge quotas for sharing of asylum seekers.

"We will go in two directions: first one, we will file a charge at the court in Luxembourg... secondly, we will not implement the [decision] of the interior ministers," Fico told reporters.

EU leaders are to hold an emergency summit on Wednesday in which the subject of discussion will be to boost aid for Syrian refugees in Turkey along with the rest of the Middle East and the possible tightening of controls on the bloc's external borders.

Turkey houses around 2 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world.


TRTWorld and agencies