STOCKHOLM, Oct 28 (AP) â€” The latest in the odyssey of hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing Europe in search of a new life.
Croatian police say fewer refugees than usual have entered the country in the past day and a half.
Spokesman Domagoj Dzigumovic says 2,700 migrants came in Wednesday morning and 5,700 on Tuesday, numbers down from the past weeks. Croatia reported a record 11,500 refugees entering on Saturday alone.
Dzigumovic insists it’s still too early to say whether the migrant wave toward Western Europe is slowing down. He says at least ten days must pass before any conclusions can be drawn.
Police say nearly 270,000 migrants have crossed into Croatia since Sept. 15, when Hungary closed its border with Serbia, diverting refugees to Croatia.
Asylum-seekers are traveling from Turkey across the sea to Greece and then through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, trying to reach wealthy EU nations like Germany.
Slovenia’s prime minister says his country is ready to build a fence on its border with Croatia if an EU plan to stem their flow across the Balkans fails.
Miro Cerar, speaking after a meeting of Slovenia’s national security council on Wednesday, says “if necessary, we are ready to put up the fence immediately.”
EU and Balkan leaders agreed at a weekend summit to stem the massive migrant surge by introducing tighter border controls.
Since Oct. 16, when the refugee flow was rerouted to Slovenia after Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia, more than 86,000 people have crossed into Slovenia.
The small Alpine nation has been struggling to cope with the influx and has criticized Croatia for sending more migrants to the border than it can handle.
Germany’s Interior Minister says many of the Afghans pouring into the country will most likely be sent back to their homeland.
Thomas de Maiziere says Germany and other western nations have poured millions in developmental aid into Afghanistan, as well as sending troops and police to help train security forces there, and that Afghanistan’s government agrees with Berlin that citizens should stay and help rebuild the country.
De Maiziere said Wednesday, “the people who come from Afghanistan cannot expect that they will be able to stay.”
Germany has implemented a plan to streamline the asylum process for those fleeing civil war, such as Syrians, to settle them more quickly, but also to more rapidly send home those whose case for asylum is weak.
He says Afghans will be considered case-by-case.
Germany’s top security official has sharply criticized Austria for dumping migrants at the border between the two countries under the cover of night.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere says “Austria’s behavior in recent days was out of line.”
De Maiziere told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that Austrian authorities failed to warn their German counterparts about the impending arrivals.
He says the two countries have agreed to cooperate better “and I expect this to happen immediately.”
With no signs of a slowdown in the flow of migrants from Slovenia, Austrian officials are raising the possibility of building a fence along parts of the countries’ common border.
Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says a fence might be needed to ensure an “orderly, controlled” entry into Austria. Defense Minister Gerald Klug says containers or railings could be set up to “be able to control the refugees in an orderly way.”
They spoke Wednesday to state broadcaster ORF.
The flow of migrants seeking a better life in the European Union over the west Balkans land route has shifted from Hungary to Slovenia since Hungary erected a fence along its border with Serbia last month. Most continue to Germany and other EU countries from Austria.
Slovenia on Tuesday also hinted that it was considering fences, on its border with Croatia.
Political leaders in the Netherlands are calling for a halt to threats and intimidation amid heated debate on providing shelter for thousands of asylum seekers entering the country.
In an open letter published Wednesday, the leaders of 11 political parties in the Dutch parliament say they understand the strong emotions on both sides of the debate but appeal to concerned citizens “not to confuse threats and insults with arguments. Let everybody speak, even if you totally disagree with them.”
In recent weeks, demonstration marches and meetings to discuss emergency housing for asylum seekers in several towns have degenerated into verbal abuse on both sides.
The leaders say that anonymous threats via mail and social media also appear to be increasing, adding that “people, whatever their view, who behave that way limit freedom for all of us.”
Even the nation’s monarch is concerned. In comments to reporters during a state visit to China, King Willem-Alexander said that, “In the Netherlands we talk things out, we don’t fight them out.”
Sweden’s immigration agency says it will no longer publicize the location of facilities intended to house refugees after more than 20 fires, many considered arsons, have either destroyed or made the buildings temporarily unusable.
Migrationsverket spokeswoman Johanna Uhr says future sites “will somehow be kept concealed.”
Uhr says it hasn’t yet decided how to do that.
In recent weeks, Sweden has seen a spate of arson attacks on asylum centers or buildings to be used as such as an influx of refugees has surged. Immigration officials estimate some 190,000 asylum-seekers will arrive this year, putting Sweden second only to Germany among EU members.
Last week, Migrationsverket called an idea by a Swedish municipality to keep a facility secret unrealistic. The agency’s new position came after two more blazes early Wednesday.