Croatia sets up refugee centre to ease crisis

Authorities in Croatia have set up a refugee reception centre in the eastern Croatian village of Opatovac, hoping to inject order into the unrelenting chaos that has gripped the country overwhelmed by thousands seeking sanctuary in Europe.

Croatian authorities said that some 27,000 people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia had entered the country since Hungary shut its border with Serbia on September 15.

That closure stymied many migrants, who found their way blocked as governments bickered over who should take responsibility for them.

Croatia sets up refugee centre to ease crisisIraqi refugees gather around a fire to shelter from the evening cold while waiting at the train station in Tovarnik, Croatia, yesterday. Pic: AP

The new centre is expected to register the asylum seekers and then arrange for transport onward.

On Sunday Hungary reopened its main border crossing with Serbia after sealing it off for five days to prevent migrants from entering its territory.

Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said the crossing on the M5 highway between Roszke, Hungary, and Horgos, Serbia, was reopened for vehicles, which will be checked.

The crossing was the site of clashes last Wednesday between baton-wielding Hungarian riot police and migrants and the reopening follows negotiations with Pinter’s Serbian counterpart, Nebojsa Stefanovic.

Croatia sets up refugee centre to ease crisisA refugee lays on the ground in front the border station of Obretzje in Slovenia yesterday. Pic: AP

Over the weekend dozens of migrants were feared dead after two boat tragedies.

Thirteen migrants died on Sunday after their boat collided with a ferry off the Turkish coast, officials said, while the Greek coast guard fanned out in the choppy waters of the Aegean Sea searching for another 27 people missing after their boat sank off the island of Lesbos.

Coast guard officials said some 29 people were rescued in the two incidents, which followed another sinking near Lesbos on Saturday, in which a five-year-old girl drowned. Between 10 and 12 people were missing.

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