UNHCR: Over 10,000 refugees currently in Serbia

More than 10,000 refugees are currently stranded in Serbia and cannot continue their journey to western Europe because of limits imposed by countries in the wider region, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melita Sunjic was quoted by media in Belgrade as warning that this was "a big river of people" that was not easy to stop.

"We can only say that there are more than 10,000 refugees in Serbia. It is like a big river of people, and if you stop the flow, you will have floods somewhere," the media quoted her statement to Reuters news agency.

Speaking by telephone from the Serbian-Croatian border, Sunjic said: "There is a lack of food, lack of blankets, we are missing everything."

After Slovenia and Austria decided to take no more refugees and Hungary closed its border with Croatia, pressure has increased on the Croatian-Serbian border, where about 50 buses with over 1,000 people were waiting on Monday.

According to the Serbian public broadcaster RTS, refugees from the Middle East started entering Croatia at the Berkasovo-Bapska border crossing on Monday morning. "The Berkasovo-Bapska border crossing, in front of which about 3,000 men, women and children spent the night, was opened by Croatia at about 7am," spokeswoman for the UNHCR Belgrade Office Mirjana Milenkovski told Tanjug news agency.

Between midnight and 8am on Monday, more than 25 buses with refugees arrived at that border crossing, and many also arrived by taxi. According to the UNHCR, about 10,000 refugees from the Middle East entered Serbia from Macedonia within 24 hours on Sunday, "which is unprecedented". Among them were many children and pregnant women, and the police managed to register over 5,600 people on Sunday and another 1,615 on Monday, with priority given to pregnant women and families with small children.

The UNHCR expects a train with about 550 people to arrive in Serbia from Macedonia in the course of Monday, RTS said.

Last update: Tue, 08/12/2015 - 12:28
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