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Juncker calls EU-Balkans mini-summit on refugees for Sunday

21 october 2015, 16:07

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called a mini-summit in Brussels on Sunday to tackle the migrant crisis along the western Balkans route, his office said, AFP reports.

The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will meet their counterparts from non-EU states Macedonia and Serbia, Juncker's office said Wednesday.

"In view of the unfolding emergency in the countries along the western Balkans migratory route, there is a need for much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action," a statement said.

"Juncker has therefore called a leaders' meeting on 25 October to discuss the refugee flows along the western Balkans route," following discussions with several leaders, the statement added.

An unprecedented number of people, mainly fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are travelling through Turkey, Greece and the western Balkans, seeking new lives in Germany and other EU states.

Tensions have built along the migrant trail after Hungary shut its borders, diverting the flow west to Slovenia, which in turn has also limited arrivals, along with Croatia.

On Monday, thousands of refugees were battered for hours by chilly rain as they waited at a bottleneck on the Serbia-Croatia frontier, where families in plastic ponchos huddled around fires and children walked barefoot in the mud.

Two UN officials coordinating efforts to help the migrants in the Balkans said Tuesday the EU effort to coordinate a response to the worst migrant crisis since World War II was being hampered by indecision.

UN refugee coordinator in Serbia, Irena Vojackova-Sollorano, told AFP it was "rather frustrating for us to watch."

She and her UN colleague in Macedonia Louise Vinton also warned there was no sign the influx of migrants was slowing down, as many had expected with the approach of winter.

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