Refugees 'could become stranded' after Hungary closes border with Croatia

Refugees 'could become stranded' after Hungary closes border with Croatia

Hungary has shut down its border with Croatia to the free flow of refugees, a move experts say could leave thousands of people on their way to western Europe stranded in the small Balkan nation.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto announced the decision after a meeting of the national security cabinet, and the border, reinforced with a razor-wire fence, was closed from midnight.

Several hundred refugees who reached the border minutes before the deadline would still be allowed to enter Hungary for humanitarian reasons, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said.

"The Hungarian government has taken the steps ... to protect the internal European freedoms and the security of the citizens of Hungary and Europe," Mr Kovacs said minutes after the shutdown.

Hungary ordered the border clampdown after EU leaders who met in Brussels failed to agree on a plan backed by Hungary to send EU forces to block refugees from reaching Greece.

"We know that this is not the best, but only the second-best solution," Mr Szijjarto said.

He said normal border checkpoints between the two countries would remain open, though inspections will be tightened. "We will introduce stricter controls to be able to block border crossings done illegally," Mr Szijjarto said.

Although Croatia is also a member of the European Union, unlike Hungary it is not part of the Schengen zone of passport-free travel. Refugees could still apply for asylum in Hungary at two border transit zones, he said.

More than 383,000 refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Hungary this year, nearly all passing through on their way to Germany and other destinations further west in the EU.

The country clamped down on its border with Serbia with a similar fence on September 15 and since then refugees have been taking a detour through Croatia to reach Hungary.

Croatia will start sending refugees to its border with Slovenia, another EU country in the Schengen zone, which also shares borders with Hungary and Austria.

Slovenia said it would beef up border controls and create entry points for refugees to manage the influx, but would keep accepting refugees as long as Austria and Germany kept their borders open.

However, experts fear that many will get stuck in Croatia, which is ill-prepared to provide for them in large numbers.

More on this topic

Young migrant children rescued from near-freezing conditions in English ChannelYoung migrant children rescued from near-freezing conditions in English Channel

Child, 10, dies in undercarriage of plane as British MPs vote down child refugee protectionsChild, 10, dies in undercarriage of plane as British MPs vote down child refugee protections

More than 40 migrants intercepted by UK's Border Force crossing English ChannelMore than 40 migrants intercepted by UK's Border Force crossing English Channel

'They can now look to the future with hope' - Minister welcomes 50 Syrians to Ireland'They can now look to the future with hope' - Minister welcomes 50 Syrians to Ireland

More in this Section

Woman feared dead as Britain counts the cost of Storm DennisWoman feared dead as Britain counts the cost of Storm Dennis

Coronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship land back in USCoronavirus: Americans from quarantined cruise ship land back in US

Boris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviserBoris Johnson faces calls to sack controversial Number 10 adviser

More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’More than 200 Heathrow flights grounded after ‘technical issue’


Lifestyle

When Marisa Murphy went to play as a teenager on Dinish Island, she could still see the flowers growing among the ruins in her grandmother’Islands of Ireland: Barely inhabitated Dinish became an industrial zone

MAC make-up artist Lucy Bridge shares her tips backstage at Roland Mouret.How to create the perfect matte red lip, according to a backstage beauty expert

New trends include chunky heeled boots, silver belts and lots of plaid from the British designer.Victoria Beckham got ‘rebellious’ for her new collection – as David and family watched on

When horses were shown photographs of angry human faces, their hearts speeded up.Jackass penguin talk is similar to humans

More From The Irish Examiner