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Description: Police sealed a railway crossing point near Roszke which had been used by tens of thousands of migrants to enter the European border-free Schengen zone.

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Migrants in Croatia in new route north
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Migrants in Croatia in new route north


Migrant crisis: Dozens reach Croatia as Hungary border sealed


    16 September 2015

  • From the section Europe



                A group of migrants rest on the Serbian side of the border near Sid, 16 September 2015.Image copyright

Image caption
                    The first migrants reached Serbia's border with Croatia after the Hungarian route was closed off


The first group of migrants has reached Croatia - a new route to northern European Union countries, a day after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia.

About 150 migrants crossed into the EU country from neighbouring Serbia.

Croatia says it is ready to receive them "or direct" them to where they want to go. Many migrants - mainly Syrian - are hoping to reach Germany.

New border restrictions and a row over allocating migrants have shown bitter divisions in Europe over the crisis.

Hundreds of stranded migrants waited overnight outside or in makeshift tents close to the Serbian border with Hungary.

Follow the latest from BBC correspondents in the area

Lyse Doucet: They are people "seeking sanctuary, seeking a better safer life".

James Reynolds: Refugees and migrants wake up on the Serbia-Hungary border

Fergal Keane: The majority are Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis.

More on the migrant crisis:


Will Hungary's clampdown work?

The refugees who chose Brazil over Europe

Five 'happy refugees' pictures that went viral

Crisis explained in graphics

On Tuesday, Hungary declared a state of emergency in the area, with hundreds of army and police deployed to enforce new laws making it an offence to breach a razor-wire border fence.

Police sealed a railway crossing point near Roszke which had been used by tens of thousands of migrants to enter the European border-free Schengen zone.

The move has all but stopped the inflow. On Wednesday, Hungarian police said they had detained 367 migrants entering illegally - and the first criminal proceedings have been launched.

The 28-member EU is facing a huge influx of migrants, many of whom are fleeing conflict and poverty in countries including Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011.

The EU's border agency says more than 500,000 migrants have arrived at the EU's borders this year, compared with 280,000 in 2014.

'We will help'

A group of about 40 migrants arrived at the Serbian border town of Sid early on Wednesday. They had travelled by bus from the Serbian town of Presevo near the Macedonian border in the south.

"We heard that Hungary was closed so the police told us we should come this way," Amadou, 35, from Mauritania told AFP news agency.

"We don't know what we should do now. Do we have to catch a boat?"

The first migrants to cross were being registered by Croatian police in the town of Tovarnik.

Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told parliament authorities were "entirely ready to receive or direct those people where they want to go, which is obviously Germany or Scandinavian countries".

"They will be able to pass through Croatia and we will help, we're getting ready for that possibility," he said, contradicting an earlier statement by one of his ministers.

A meeting of the Croatian National Security Council has been called to co-ordinate the response.


                Image copyright

Image caption
                    Migrants spent the night out in the open on the Serbian side of the border with Hungary


At midnight (22:00 GMT), Austria became the latest country to introduce tighter border controls. They apply to the border with Hungary but could be extended.

But Austria insisted no-one fleeing persecution would be turned back to Hungary.

Austrian police said Vienna's two main stations were overflowing with migrants and the main station in Salzburg might have to close.

Austria's director general for public security, Konrad Kogler, said: "We expect that if [Hungary's] measures are very effective, we will have to deal with different new routes."




Analysis: BBC's Guy Delauney, Belgrade

All year, Serbia has taken a relaxed attitude towards the migrants and refugees entering from neighbouring Macedonia.

The authorities understood that few of the people coming in would want to stay, although some expressed regret that people desperately fleeing conflict did not view Serbia as a desirable destination.

But Hungary's fence and its criminalisation of unofficial border crossings has brought a halt to the flow of people across Serbia.

If an exit into Hungary becomes impossible, the number of refugees here may begin to rise, challenging not only the country's capacity for dealing with asylum seekers but its citizens' hitherto admirable tolerance and empathy.

Serbian alarm over stranded migrants

The Serbian minister in charge of the government's working committee on migrants, Aleksandar Vulin, argued that the closure of the border by Hungary was unsustainable for Serbia.

He told the BBC's Lyse Doucet that contact between Serbian and Hungarian officials had been minimal.

Hungary has also said it could extend its fence to the border with Romania.

Romania said this would violate the "European spirit" of co-operation.

EU members have clashed over mandatory quotas for refugees.




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