Wednesday 21 August 2019

Slovenia starts building fence at border with Croatia to control migrant flow

A Slovenian soldier helps erect a razor-wired fence on the Croatian border in Gibina (AP)
A Slovenian soldier helps erect a razor-wired fence on the Croatian border in Gibina (AP)

Slovenia has started to build a razor-wire fence along its border with Croatia to control the influx of migrants.

A convoy of army trucks carrying the fence and bulldozers arrived in the town of Veliki Obrez on Wednesday morning, and soldiers began unwinding the spirals of wire and stretching them along the Slovenian side of the river Sutla that divides the two countries.

Other units were later seen further south-west, near the town of Gibina, also stretching the spirals of wire and stacking them on top of each other.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar said on Tuesday that his country expects about 30,000 new migrants to reach Slovenia's borders.

His government fears that if neighbouring Austria restricts their entry, the number of people that would be stranded in Slovenia would be too much for the tiny Alpine state to handle.

Mr Cerar said: "If we don't act on time, this could cause a humanitarian catastrophe on the territory of Slovenia."

He said the "technical barrier" will be used to direct the refugee flow, not to close the 670-kilometre (400-mile) border as was the case in Hungary.

Nearly 170,000 migrants have crossed Slovenia since mid-October when Hungary closed its border with Croatia with a razor-wire fence and the flow was redirected to Slovenia.

Interior Minister Vesna Gyorkos Znidar said the measures "are not popular, but they are necessary".

Meanwhile, European and African leaders have gathered in Malta for talks aimed at speeding the return of migrants who do not qualify for asylum and to address longer-term issues like poverty, climate change and conflict, which are forcing people to leave.

The meeting is taking place in the capital Valletta, not far from the area in the Mediterranean where thousands of people have been rescued and many have drowned at sea this year.

PA Media

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