The United Nations warned Friday that Europe is running out of time to find a solution to the crisis. Above, refugees walk on a dirt road as they approach the Croatian border near the town of Sid, Serbia, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. Reuters/Stoyan Nenov
Chants of “We’re going to Slovenia” rang out Friday as refugees in Croatia tried to enter the next country on their journey, the Associated Press reported. As Central European states continued to bicker and try to push refugee populations on each other, the United Nations warned that Europe is running out of time to solve the crisis. The European Council is scheduled to meet next Wednesday to continue discussing its response to the crisis.
“These occasions may be the last opportunity for a positive, united and coherent European response to the crisis,” said Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. “The suffering and risks for thousands of refugees and migrants are meanwhile increasing as uncertainty and a lack of information fuels desperation, raises the likelihood of further incidents and stokes hostility towards people who have fled persecution and conflict and are in need of help.”
The Croatian government said more than 15,000 refugees had crossed its borders over the last three days. Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Friday he would not let his country become a “migrant hotspot,” according to the BBC.
Neighboring Slovenia said it would not admit the refugees from Croatia and accused Croatia of failing to uphold EU migration rules. Riot police on the Slovenian side of the border stood guard Friday. Slovenia suspended train travel from Croatia Friday after some refugees managed to cross the border.
Croatia, for its part, sent migrants back to Hungary Friday, causing the Hungarian government to say Croatia was causing “mass criminal offenses.” At the same time, Hungary quietly allowed refugees to board trains and continue on to Austria, the AP reported.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Milanovic Friday and said in a statement that the crisis “must be solved at the European Union's external borders.”
The EU reported Friday that in the second quarter of 2015, from April to June, 213,200 first-time asylum seekers applied for protected status, according to Eurostat. Germany received the highest number of applicants at more than 80,000. Refugees this year have been steadily fleeing war-torn countries and repressive states including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.