EU divided on migrant crisis as refugees count go up

RSTV Bureau
Dortmund :  Volunteers sort donated clothes for arriving refugees in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. Thousands of migrants and refugees traveled to Dortmund by trains.  Photo - PTI/AP

Dortmund : Volunteers sort donated clothes for arriving refugees in Dortmund, Germany, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. Thousands of migrants and refugees traveled to Dortmund by trains.
Photo – PTI/AP

The European Union (EU) appeared increasingly divided over the current Migrant crisis even as more and more refugees continue to march in Europe from the conflict zones of Syria, Afghanistan and other Middle-Eastern countries. The divide surfaced after Austria was forced to suspend its cross-border train services ferrying refugees after record numbers of them streamed through the Balkans into Hungarian city of Roszke.

Germany, which has already admitted the largest chunk of refugees coming in the Union, warned that EU plan to distribute 160,000 new arrivals among its member states was a mere “drop in the ocean”. The European Union (EU) is also facing a stiff opposition from the eastern members who said that they will not accept binding quotas from Brussels.

“The distribution of 160,000 refugees across Europe is a first step, if one wants to be polite,” said Deputy Chancellor of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel adding “it’s a drop in the ocean.”

In Hungary, the state police said that 3,321 people had entered in just 24 hours, hurrying to cross before harsh new anti-migrant laws take effect, an imposing new fence is completed, and the weather worsens.

Across the border in Serbia, state television reported that a record number of 5,000 people had arrived at the frontier. Further south, at Greece-Macedonia border, 50 buses transported around 2,500 migrants and three trains packed with 3,000 people departed from the town of Gevgelija.

Earlier on Tuesday, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR warned that at least 42,000 migrants were expected to enter Hungary by the next week even as Hungary’s state police continue to struggle to control and register the new arrivals as they break through fences and try to board trains and buses heading for Austria.

The development has led to Austria’s train operator suspending services with Hungary on Thursday due to “massive overcrowding” asking the bus companies and volunteers to stop bringing migrants to stations.

To cope with the growing migrant crisis, the EU interior ministers will now meet next week Monday to discuss a plan unveiled by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to share out 160,000 refugees across the bloc and ease the burden on frontline states.

On the other hand, the issue of binding quotas on the members to admit refugees is already facing a stiff resistance from eastern EU members and Brussels may have to call a special summit to get them approved.

“It is inappropriate to talk about mandatory quotas, calculated on an extremely bureaucratic basis, almost like an accountancy exercise I might say, without consulting member states,” said Romania President Klaus Iohannis.

His views echoed those of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, who earlier had said “don’t want to wake up one day and have 50,000 people here about whom we know nothing.”

(With inputs from the PTI)