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Hungary shuts border with Croatia amid migrant crisis

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Hungary shuts border with Croatia amid migrant crisis

Thereport24.com Desk:

Hungary has closed its border with Croatia in an effort to stem the flow of migrants through the country en route to western Europe, BBC reports.

Croatia said it would begin directing migrants to Slovenia instead.

Hungary has been a major transit country for migrants, many of whom aim to continue on to Austria and Germany.

It announced the closure on Friday after EU leaders failed to agree a plan backed by Hungary to send a force to prevent migrants reaching Greece.

The border, reinforced with a razor-wire fence, closed at midnight (22:00 GMT) on Friday.

A group of several hundred migrants who arrived near the village of Zakany minutes before the deadline were the last to be allowed through.

"We know that this is not the best, but only the second-best solution," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, announcing the closure earlier. Migrants could still apply for asylum in Hungary at two border transit zones, he added.

Hungary has already sealed its border with Serbia.

There are fears in Slovenia that closure of the Croatia-Hungary border will channel many more migrants through Slovenia.

Ranko Ostojic, Croatia's interior minister, said Croatia was "turning the route, the corridor, towards Slovenia".

Croatia has not struck any agreement with Slovenia, according to Mr Ostojic. "This is (purely) a Croatian plan," he said.

In response, Slovenia stopped all passenger rail transport from Croatia, the country's national railway company announced.

Slovenia's Interior Minister, Vesna Gjorkos Znidar, said extra police had been deployed to the border with Croatia.

But she said the country will keep accepting refugees as long as neighbouring Austria and Germany keep their borders open.

Ends/thereport24.com/MI/Oct 17, 2015