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Slovenia asks for EU help to tackle refugee crisis

European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is visiting Slovenia to discuss the migrant crisis. The small Balkan country has asked for EU police help to regulate the migrant flow.

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Refugees trapped in Slovenia

Over the past 24 hours, more than 12,000 refugees have arrived in Slovenia, according to Slovenian police. This record surpasses even the numbers in Hungary at the height of the crisis in September. Slovenia is the smallest country on the Balkan migration route, with only two million inhabitants.

On Thursday morning, more than 1,000 asylum seekers streamed out of a crowded Austrian collection point on the Austrian-Slovenian border after Austrian police removed barriers to prevent possible violence. Police said some followed instructions and regrouped outside the barriers, but many continued walking northward away from the Spielfeld border crossing.

Slovenia voiced sharp criticism over Croatia's decision to open its borders on Monday night, letting thousands of people in Slovenia, on their way north to Austria and Germany.

The situation is tense in Slovenian refugee camps. In Brezice, near the Slovenian-Croatian border, a fire of unknown origin destroyed 27 tents.

Slovenia asked the European Union for police to help regulate the inflow of migrants from neighboring Croatia, Interior Minister Vesna Gyorkos Znidar told TV Slovenia.

"Slovenia has already asked other EU member states for police units," Znidar stated late on Wednesday.

European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos is visiting Slovenia on Thursday to discuss the migrant crisis and assess the problems of the small Balkan country.

Orban warns of political crisis in Europe

After Hungary sealed its border with Croatia at the end of last week, huge numbers of migrants started coming to Slovenia.

Slovenia's parliament has given more power to the army which is helping police secure the border, while the country also plans to rehire retired police officers to help tackle the migrant crisis. The new legislation allows the army to patrol the frontier even when border police are not present.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called an extraordinary meeting to discuss the refugee flows along the Western Balkans for Sunday, inviting the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.

In the meantime, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban urged European leaders to change their immigration policies and involve voters in a debate about the continent's future, saying they would otherwise face a political crisis and a threat to democratic order.

He added that Hungary's border fence had been meant to turn migrants back from Europe, not divert them along a different path to Germany. He called upon his Balkan neighbors to send the refugees back. "The right thing to do is not to ensure their passage into Europe but to take them back to the refugee camps they started out from," he stated.

das/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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