EU calls mini summit as Balkans buckle under refugee crisis

The EU has called a mini summit with Balkan countries on the migrant crisis.

AFP| Last Updated: Oct 22, 2015, 03:55 AM IST

Ljubljana: The EU has called a mini summit with Balkan countries on the migrant crisis, as Slovenia became the latest state to buckle under a surge of refugees desperate to reach northern Europe before winter.

The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will meet in Brussels Sunday with their counterparts from non-EU states Macedonia and Serbia, the office of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said.

"In view of the unfolding emergency in the countries along the western Balkans migratory route, there is a need for much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action," a statement said.

The continent has been struggling to find a unified response on how to tackle its biggest migration crisis since 1945.

More than 600,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have braved the dangerous journey to Europe so far this year, the UN said.

Of these, over 3,000 have drowned or gone missing as they set off from Turkey in inflatable boats seeking to reach Greece, the starting point for the migrants' long trek north.

With the crisis showing no sign of abating, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reinforced security in the port city of Calais from where migrants and refugees try to cross to Britain.

He also announced that women and children would be given heated tents, as arrivals in a makeshift camp face a dip in temperature.

The goal for many migrants is the EU's biggest economy Germany, which expects to receive up to a million asylum requests this year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the influx of asylum seekers into Germany was part of the fallout from globalisation which, she noted, had served Germany well on exports and jobs.

The Turkish government, meanwhile, warned it was bracing for a mass exodus from neighbouring Syria amid escalating violence there.