Refugee crisis: Hungary closes Croatian border to refugees 'from midnight'

Hungary completed construction of its second iron fence along its southern neighbour's border on Thursday

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 16 October 2015 16:21 BST
Soldiers work on the fence along the now-finished Croatian border
Soldiers work on the fence along the now-finished Croatian border (EPA)

Hungary will close the border with Croatia to refugees from midnight, only hours after completing the second of two razor-wire fences along its borders.

The decision follows hostile rhetoric towards refugees from Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

On Friday morning Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said that "the Hungarian-Croatian green border will be closed from midnight," approximately 10pm GMT.

The border’s close will prevent refugees from traveling through Croatia and Hungary en route to Germany or richer northern European nations.

Instead, they will be forced to enter “in a controlled way” through just two official border crossings, established exclusively for refugees, according to Mr Orban.

Roughly 5,000 to 8,000 refugees cross the Croatian border every day, according to data from the Hungarian police. The majority are bussed by police across the country to Austrian officials.

With the close of this semi-official corridor refugees will be forced to either trek overland through Slovenia or stay in Croatia, where authorities are struggling to cope as the weather turns cold.

It is the latest step, threatened by Mr Orban earlier this week during meetings in Brussels, against refugees arriving in Europe.

His foreign minister claimed the European Union’s failure to reach an agreement on a force to protect southern nations’ borders meant Hungary was being forced into protecting Europe. Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany had been informed of the decision, Mr Szijjarto claimed.

Hungary has constructed two iron fences along Serbia and now Croatia’s borders. The first, stretching 11m-miles along the Serbian border, and the second along Croatia’s border, completed only yesterday, have been condemned by human rights groups.

Additional reporting by Press Association and Reuters

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