On the march to western Europe – Shocking pictures
Battling strong winds, driving rain, mud and freezing temperatures, these stunning photographs show a slow trek of thousands of migrants making their way to Europe amid the harsh conditions of the oncoming winter.
As one European leader warns the ever growing crisis will see the EU fall apart ‘in weeks’, tens of thousands of people are continuing to try and reach the Eurozone via the arduous Balkans route.
And as these pictures show, they are prepared to do so despite often overwhelmingly difficult conditions.
The column of migrants was filmed from the sky as it weaved through fields in Rigonce, Slovenia, after having passed into the country from Croatia.
Tens of thousands of people are trying to reach central and northern Europe via the Balkans, but often have to wait for days in mud and rain at the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian borders.
Slovenia’s premier this weekend warned the European Union that it ‘is weeks away from falling apart’ if the bloc cannot agree on a plan to confront the sudden influx of refugees through the Balkans.
Nine days after Hungary’s move to seal its southern border drove unprecedented migrant flows into tiny Slovenia, Prime Minister Miro Cerar sent out a dramatic call to fellow central and eastern leaders in Brussels for emergency talks.
He said: ‘If we don’t find a solution today, if we don’t do everything we can today, then it is the end of the European Union as such. If we don’t deliver concrete action, I believe Europe will start falling apart.’
Since October 17, more than 62,000 migrants have arrived in Slovenia, with some 14,000 still passing through the country on today alone.
Cerar said Croatia, which has already seen some 230,000 migrants pass through since mid-September, was still waving migrants through into Slovenia without alerting Slovenia authorities.
Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia have all now warned they could close their borders if Germany and Austria stop accepting migrants.
More than 680,000 migrants and refugees have crossed to Europe by sea so far this year from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Following years of economic crisis, Europe’s governments are struggling to cope with an influx of people from countries including Syria, where Russia’s intervention has complicated efforts to end nearly five years of civil war.
Hungary’s decision to seal its borders left crowds of migrants camping by the side of the road in worsening weather.
As a result of their new border fencing, migrants switched to Croatia, which also imposed border controls, pushing them into Slovenia.
Now the domino effect is threatening to destroy the Schengen Agreement for passport-free travel within the EU.
As EU leaders met at a Brussels summit, Mr Cerar said: ‘If we do not deliver some immediate and concrete actions on the ground in the next few days and weeks I believe the EU and Europe as a whole will start falling apart.’
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the need for leaders to reach a consensus on the crisis by invoking the plight of migrants as the winter months approach.