Slovenia’s Solution to the Refugee Crisis? ‘Technical Obstacles’ on its Borders
Overwhelmed by the number of migrants and refugees crossing its borders each day, Slovenian officials announced plans to install obstacles on their borders as a deterrent.
European nations looking to slow the flood of migrants washing into their countries are considering an array of potential legal roadblocks. Slovenia has decided to build literal ones.
Prime Minister Miro Cerar announced Tuesday that his government planned to implement “temporary technical obstacles” on its border with Croatia to make it harder for asylum-seekers to pass through the Balkans en route to other destinations in Europe.
“These obstacles, including fences if needed, will have the objective of directing migrants towards the border crossings,” Cerar told reporters in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana Tuesday. “We are not closing our borders.”
According to Cerar, the sheer number of refugees pushing their way into the country could spark a humanitarian disaster. He insisted that the obstacles were not intended to harm or inconvenience the refugees, but instead to encourage the use of official border crossings in specific locations prepared to handle large crowds.
Slovenia is home to only two million people, and since October, more than 170,000 asylum-seekers have crossed into the tiny country, with another 30,000 expected to pass through in the next few days alone, according to Slovenian estimates. The mass influx is due in large part to Hungary’s decision to seal its borders with Croatia and Serbia, essentially forcing travelers to head toward Slovenia instead.
Many of those passing through the Balkan peninsula have no intention of staying and are instead heading toward Germany, where officials expect to receive at least 800,000 asylum applications this year.
Despite a number of summits organized to discuss the refugee crisis, European leaders have failed to agree on how to appropriately disperse the burden of the some 700,000 asylum-seekers who have arrived on the continent this year. Some countries, including Hungary, have implemented harsh regulations and hastily built walls to keep the migrants and refugees out.
But if Cerar’s announcement Tuesday is proof of anything, it’s that those plans don’t prevent refugees from seeking asylum in Europe. Instead, they unevenly place the burden on neighboring countries where border control is more lax.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has previously called migrants and refugees a threat to Europe’s “Christian roots.” Cerar, on the other hand, tweeted Tuesday that he wished he didn’t have to install the obstacles, but had no other choice.
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