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18th Jan 2019

Slovenia erects fence to 'channel' migrants

  • Around 8,000 people arriving in Slovenia each day (Photo: Jacksoncam)

Slovenia has started building a fence on its border with Croatia, in efforts, the government said, to “prevent the dispersal of refugees and to steer them towards controlled entry points.”

The installation of 1.5 km worth of an 1.8-metre high razor wire structure began early on Wednesday (11 November) morning near the easterly villages of Rigonce and Razkrizje.

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The move had been announced on Tuesday by Slovenia prime minister Miro Cerar, who said he wants to "prevent a humanitarian disaster.”

“As a human being, I find the decision to erect physical barriers difficult to make, as I certainly do not want Europe to close its borders again. However, as prime minister, I have to take responsibility to ensure the controlled flow of refugees," he said.

He added Slovenia might have to take care of even more people, after neighbouring Austria announced it would take in only 6,000 people a day and after Germany indicated it will impose similar restrictions.

Almost 7,500 people arrived in Slovenia on Tuesday, with a furter 4,360 counted by 2pm on Wednesday.

Interior state secretary Bostjan Sefic told press the number of exits from the country is normal, but gave no figures.

Since mid-October, over 170,000 people entered Slovenia, mainly from Croatia.

"This measure [the fence] is not to prevent people from entering, but to channel them towards spots where they can be registered and sent to accommodation centers," Sefic said.

He said migrants come mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. He noted that while "men prevail, there is an increasing number of women and minors.”

Other sections of the fence will be set up in coming days, but the state secretary declined to say where.

'Waste of money'

In Croatia, the government said Slovenia's move is "a waste of money".

"It would have been better to build a temporary shelter for refugees, with the same capacity as ours,” interior minister Ranko Ostojic said, referring to a 5,000-place shelter opened recently.

EU authorities did not react to Slovenia’s fence decision. 

Although it is installed on a border between two EU states, it is on an external Schengen border, as Croatia is not yet a member of the free-circulation area.

"Member states have the responsibility to manage their portion of the external borders and it is up to them to identify the measures to be put in place to make sure EU borders are secure," the EU Commission told EUobserver.

"Member states are not obliged to notify the European Commission regarding the tools they are using for border surveillance."

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