Slovenia’s army has started rolling out razor wire along the border with Croatia, in a move billed by the government as designed to better manage the influx of refugees.
Slovenia last month suddenly found itself on the Balkans route taken by thousands of migrants heading to northern Europe, with more than 170,000 passing through the small EU member state since mid-October.
Prime Minister Miro Cerar had announced on Tuesday that the government planned to build ‘obstacles’ along parts of its frontier with Croatia, an outer border of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.
‘These obstacles, including fences if needed, will have the objective of directing migrants towards the border crossings. We are not closing our borders,’ Cerar had told a news conference.
An AFP reporter in Gibina in north-eastern Slovenia said on Wednesday morning that soldiers were erecting rolls of the razor wire to about waist height across fields.
Cerar had said that the measures were aimed at avoiding a ‘humanitarian disaster’ caused by an expected sharp rise in migrant numbers this week following a recent dip.
He also said Austria – the next country along on the migrant trail – was planning to restrict the daily number of new arrivals to 6000, creating a backlog in Slovenia.
Austria expects a record 95,000 asylum claims this year, an official said Wednesday, but the government has so far not announced that it will limit the number of migrant entries.
Its squabbling coalition government was expected to discuss similar measures to Slovenia on Wednesday.
Slovenia’s actions came as European leaders were due to meet African counterparts in Malta to discuss the migrant crisis, which has driven a wedge between member states and boosted populist parties.