Southeast Europe to Open Up 100 000 New Migrant Spaces

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | October 26, 2015, Monday // 11:30
Bulgaria: Southeast Europe to Open Up 100 000 New Migrant Spaces Leaders pose for a family picture during summit to discuss refugee flows along the Western Balkans route, at EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 25, 2015. EPA/BGNES

European leaders agreed at an emergency summit that 100 000 more spaces will be created in refugee reception centers along the so-called "migrant route" in Southeast Europe.

Greece will have to receive some 30 000 migrants by end-2015, and Western Balkan states will contribute by opening 50 000 more, whereas the UN's refugee agency will provide another 20 000 spaces, according to the 17-point "plant of action" agreed by leaders of Southeastern European nations, Austria, Germany, and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

A 400-strong police team will be sent to Slovenia to help it tackle the number of arrivals.

Western and Central European members hope restricting movement along the "Balkan route" by helping Southeast Europe to take in some more of the people who arrive will curb the influx further into the continent.

Exchange of information among different states will be a key point in joint effort.

"Challenges currently faced along the Western Balkans migration route will not be solved through national actions. Only a collective, cross-border approach based on cooperation can succeed," reads the press statement released after the meeting.

"Countries affected should not only talk about and at each other but also with each other. Neighbours should work together not against each other," Juncker is quoted as saying, also adding "refugees need to be treated in a humane manner along the length of the Western Balkans route to avoid a humanitarian tragedy in Europe."

His comments follow the death of a migrant in Bulgaria, 30 km from the Bulgaria-Turkey border, earlier in October, after a border police officer supposedly produced shots to warn a group of Afghan people who had crossed into the country and who were hiding under a bridge. That was the first similar incident in Europe since the migrant crisis began.

Measures adopted are divided into several groups such as permanent exchange of information and coordination among states, measures to limit movement of refugees and migrants to the border of another country, steps to provide shalter and rest, joint management of migration flows, border management, anti-smuggling and trafficking action, monitoring, and a commitment to informing refugees and migrants about their rights and obligations.   

The summit also came at a time when Greece was struggling with another peak of migrant arrivals to its islands, numbering 157 000 people since October 1 alone.

Earlier, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania's leaders had met to jointly declare they would not allow their three respective countries and Greece to turn into a buffer zone between the EU and Turkey and would act reciprocally if Western and Central European states close their borders for migrants.

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Tags: migrants, migrant crisis, greece, Slovenia, Jean-Claude Juncker
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