More than 13,000 asylum seekers enter Austria: Red Cross
Thousands of migrants wait for their departure to Germany at the Austrian side of the Hungarian-Austrian border in Heiligenkreuz on September 19, 2015. (AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)
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Thousands of asylum seekers have entered Austria through Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia as the worsening refugee crisis weighs down on several European countries.
The Austrian Red Cross said more than 13,000 refugees arrived in Austria on Saturday alone, though the country’s police officials have not yet confirmed the Red Cross' figure. Austrian police had earlier said they were preparing for the arrival of some 10,000 asylum seekers.
Meanwhile, Gyorgy Bakondi, a security adviser to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, reported that neighboring Croatia let in around 8,000 refugees on Friday, 4,200 of whom entered Hungary the next day.
Hungary and Croatia are currently in a row over handling the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers at the European Union’s borders.
On Saturday, Budapest accused Zagreb of “violating Hungary’s sovereignty” by allowing the asylum seekers to cross Croatia and reach Hungarian borders.
“Once again, Hungary has been left in the lurch… We will defend the European Union, the borders of the Schengen zone, and we will defend Hungary in accordance with European rules,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
Hungary is notorious for adopting harsh policies against refugees, a stance that has greatly infuriated the international community and rights groups.
In another development, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that the country has closed its borders to undocumented asylum seekers.
On Friday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said over 442,440 refugees have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, 2,921 of whom have reportedly lost their lives during the perilous journey.
“The suffering and risks for thousands of refugees and migrants are meanwhile increasing as uncertainty and a lack of information fuels desperation, raises the likelihood of further incidents, and stokes hostility towards people who have fled persecution and conflict and are in need of help,” said Adrian Edwards, the spokesperson for the UNHCR.