Migrants have shifted their route into the EU after Hungary sealed its southern border Tuesday. Trying to find a new path through the Balkans, more than 6,000 migrants have entered Croatia in the past two days.
Arriving to the town of Sid in buses and taxis from Serbia's southern border, groups of people were dropped barely a kilometer away from a legal crossing point into Croatia. Families shouldered their bags, grabbed a packed lunch and water from the humanitarian organizations, and headed off through the cornfields. Tired and exhausted from the burning September sun, but surprisingly optimistic, migrants trudged along the dusty old road. The European Union was just a 15-minute walk away.
"I arrived in Belgrade with my wife and my father when a 'travel agent' called me and advised me to try a new route," a man from Baghdad who identified himself as Omar told DW. "He told me to take a taxi, go west across the border with Croatia. We decided to take the risk."
He wondered whether they should take the next fateful step and follow the dusty clouds kicked up by his fellow travelers. As he was approaching the border, his face became more worried. Yesterday, the Croatian police transported migrants with vans from the border; today they have to go a little bit farther after crossing the border, by foot to the train station in Tovarnik. Trains will take them to reception centers across Croatia.
"Up to 1,500 people crossed today," a policeman on the Croatian side of the line said as people approached him steadily throughout the day. "So far, the situation is under control, with no incidents. We don't know what to expect as we don't have information from the Serbian side about the number of migrants coming our way."
He believed that as night fell more buses and taxis would arrive, although a new passage that has opened between Serbia and Croatia has eased stress on Sid. A day after the Hungarian police fired tear gas and water cannons, pushing protesters back into Serbian territory, migrants came back to Kanjiza to catch a ride to Batina, a legal crossing point in northern Croatia.
"Nothing can stop desperate people fleeing from war," the policeman said. "They will always find some way to avoid barriers, wherever they are."