Tensions rise in Europe as Hungary closes its borders to the ongoing wave of refugees flowing from the Middle East towards Germany and Austria. Hungary, a European Union (EU) member, completed a barbed wire fence sealing its border with Serbia, a non-EU country. Hungary is now finishing a 41 kilometer fence to seal its border with Croatia where over 17,000 refugees wait to cross into countries that will accept them.
Croatia had been accepting the refugees, but changed its policy on Friday, sending some 3,000 back to Hungary and Serbia. Hungary has announced that it does not want to accept any more refugees from its neighbors but Croatia continues to send refugees across the border while sealing seven of its eight border crossings with Serbia.
“Up until now, we have registered 13,000 migrants on Croatian territory,” Ranko Ostojic, the Croatian interior minister, said on Friday. “This figure means that our capacities to take in more are saturated.”
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Saturday, “There has not been an agreement with Hungary. We have in some way compelled them to accept the refugees by sending them (to the border) and we will continue to do so.”
On Friday, a Croatian train carrying more than 1,000 refugees and 40 armed policemen was stopped and seized by Hungarian border officials inside Hungarian territory, having entered without prior notice or permission.
Hungary is bussing new arrivals directly to the Austrian border and Austrian police announced that at least 6,700 migrants crossed the border into their county on Saturday from Hungary.
More than 2,200 people were rescued from small boats in the Mediterranean as they attempted to sail from Libya to Turkey and Greece, but an estimated 2,600 other have lost their lives attempting the crossing. On Friday, the body of a four year old Syrian girl was found on a beach in Western Turkey, and on Saturday, a five-year old Syrian girl died and several others are still missing after their boat overturned trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.
The Greek coastguard said it had rescued 11 people and was looking for other survivors.
“We were told there were 26 people in the boat in total,” a coastguard spokeswoman said.
The Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, has been pressuring EU countries to accept the refugees however more leaders are following the example of Hungary and closing their gates on the increasing flood of asylum seekers. In addition to Hungary being targeted for closing its borders, David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is facing pressure from within his parliament to accept more refugees.
The EU benefits from open borders which promote free-trade across the continent. The ongoing refugee crisis threatens this, and many countries object to the stricter border controls being enforced.