Croatian authorities were losing control of the migrant situation this afternoon as thousands of people crossed the frontier from Serbia and flooded small border towns.
Tabloid 24stata reports that the situation is now completely out of hand in Tovarnik, a town of around 3,000 inhabitants on the Serbian border. Bozo Galic, prefect of the Vukovar-Simium County, has called the situation a “humanitarian catastrophe”, while local mayor Rose Šijaković said it was like a “siege”.
“Children are afraid to go to school, the number of refugees is already four times larger than our population,” she said.
Meanwhile, local police said they were already at the limit of what they can do and called on the national and local governments to work with one another urgently to come up with a plan.
As buses arrived this afternoon, thousands of migrants rushed to board as Arabic-speaking volunteers pleaded with them to wait their turn. The buses headed along a bumpy gravel road to the neighbouring town of Ilok, but soon became stuck.
Over 7,000 crossed from Serbia in just 12 hours after the Croatian government said it would offer free passage to all migrants, following Hungary’s decision to close its border.
Meanwhile, Jutarnji reports that so far none of the migrants who have arrived in the city of Sisak in central Croatia has no far applied to asylum. The city’s chief imam, Alem Crnkić, who spoke with them in Arabic, said although they now seem comfortable in the city, they would prefer to move on.
The paper says that 51 migrants arrived this morning in the city, which about a two-and-a-half-hour journey from the Serbian border, all of whom were men. They are being housed in former military barracks along with members of the local riot police, with clean bedding, good sanitary facilities and satellite TV.
Members of the Red Cross and the local Islamic Community are also looking after them, and they have also received a visit from the city’s mayor, Kristina Ikić Baniček.
“The facilities in which they are housed are ideal for such purposes,” Ikić Baniček told reporters. “The refugees have no contact with the public, and the Red Cross is looking after them. This is both good for them and for the security of citizens.”
“For their stay in Sisak we will take care of them and their social, hygienic, religious and other needs.”