Migrant-on-migrant violence has broken out in Croatia, the latest flashpoint on the Balkans route into Europe after Hungary sealed its border. Footage has surfaced online, filmed today, of fit young men wildly swinging punches and throwing rocks at each other. Cries of “Allah hu Akbar” can be heard amid the din.
The migrants went to war outside the train and bus station in the Croatian town of Beli Manastir. Around five to eight thousand are currently amassing in the small Balkan village.
Initial reports cite rumours suggesting that only Syrian migrants were being permitted tickets sparked the violence. The first video shows the beginning of the fight in the station; the second shows the conflict spilling out into the street with missiles flying through the air.
Within minutes of Hungary closing its border on Monday, the news had filtered back to the many thousands of migrants already trekking there. They immediately diverted their route through neighbouring Croatia.
After suddenly landing in the path of the biggest migration in Europe for decades, Croatia said on Friday it could no longer offer them refuge and would wave them onwards, challenging the EU to find a policy to receive them.
The migrants, mostly from poor or war-torn countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, have streamed into Croatia since Wednesday, after Hungary blocked what had been the main route with a metal fence and riot police at its border with Serbia.
“We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer,” Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a news conference in the capital Zagreb.
“They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant ‘hotspot’. We have hearts, but we also have heads.”
The arrival of 13,000 in the space of 48 hours, many crossing fields and some dodging police, has proved too much for one of the EU’s less prosperous states in a crisis that has divided the 28-nation bloc and left it scrambling to respond.
— Freedom Not Frontex (@nofrontexvienna) September 18, 2015
— Peter Lane (@peterlane5news) September 17, 2015