A diplomatic row escalated in Europe on Sunday as governments clashed over how to handle migrants making their way across the continent.
As several thousand more migrants arrived in Austria from Hungary via Croatia, Budapest abruptly chose to reopen a border crossing with Serbia whose closure on Tuesday had sparked a surge of migrants into neighbouring Croatia.
On Wednesday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees urged Europe to make changes, such as establishing reception centers in Greece (where more than 300,000 people have made their first landfall). It warned it might block Zagreb’s accession to Europe’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel.
After lashing out against Croatian officials, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto is now trading barbs with his Romanian counterpart over the fence. “What kind of European solidarity is this?”
But some were anxious , even though they’ve been promised they will eventually be sent to Hungary or Slovenia.
“No one can be exempt or we would no longer belong to the same union built on values and principles”, he said. Under new laws, refugees and migrants caught entering Hungary without documentation could face criminal charges carrying three year jail sentences. “It was very cold”, Muhammad Dakiri, a Syrian migrant, said.
“When we were on the sea…”
And the Libyan coastguard said it rescued 215 migrants Sunday from two boats in the Mediterranean including more than 50 women.
Last week, a hospital in Hannover said it had seen around 35 cases in a few days of Syrian refugees poisoned by eating the death cap mushroom, one of the most poisonous in Germany. Many spent the night under open skies, and the day searching for shade from a scorching late summer Sunday .
Hungary erected a steel gate and fence posts at a border crossing with Croatia, moving to seal a route used by its southern neighbour to offload thousands of migrants, a Reuters cameraman said. The government said on Saturday it had called up some army reservists, mostly to staff garrisons left empty by soldiers deployed to the border.
Gyorgy Bakondi, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief adviser, said the response had come after migrants had issued an “ultimatum” to police, demanding to be let through. There has not been enough shelter in Croatia for all of the refugees, and many people reported sleeping on the ground. Some 2,000 had entered by Saturday.
Migrant whose boat stalled at sea while crossing from Turkey to Greece swim to approach the shore of the island of Lesbos, Greece, on Sunday, September 20, 2015. The trip was very risky for the kids.
“We need to get to the negotiation”.
Foreign ministers from four eastern European countries are holding talks on the crisis later, kicking off a week of intense diplomatic activity.
Germany expects at least 800,000 asylum seekers to enter the country by the end of the year – more than any other European Union member state.
U.S. State Secretary John Kerry announced Sunday that his country would accept 80,000 refugees in 2016 and 100,000 in 2017, an increase over the current annual cap of 70,000.
Another five special trains with 500 people each on board will arrive in Freilassing from Austria on Monday.