By William Booth,
TOVARNIK, Croatia —Refugees carved a new pathway through Europe on Wednesday, with hundreds walking through cornfields to reach welcoming Croatia even as others faced tear gas and water cannons from Hungarian police determined to turn them away.
The contrasting scenes along the Serbian border highlighted both the make-or-break resolve of the asylum seekers — many fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq — and the growing friction within Europe in the absence of a coordinated policy for the unprecedented influx.
“We hit a stone and we flow around it,” said Arazak Dubal, 28, a computer programmer from Damascus who had been on the road for 18 days.
He and his three companions had reached Belgrade only to discover on the Web app Whatsap and Facebook that the Hungarian border had closed.
“So I went to Google Maps, and here we are,” said Dubal, huffing in the hot afternoon as he humped it across the farm fields.
But even as Croatia opened to the refugee tide, the country’s leaders had sharp words over the reasons it shifted it their direction.
“Barbed wire in Europe in the 21st century is not an answer, it’s a threat,” complained Croatia’s prime minister, Zoran Milanovic, in a direct jab at the blockades by neighboring Hungary.
He told lawmakers in Zagreb that Croatia would “accept and direct” the migrants to transit the country — comments that are likely to ripple through the social media networks used by the refugees and increase the march toward Croatia.
[New threat on the refugee trail: land mines]
The river of migrants already was swelling by the hour.
More than 600 migrants walked through fields and along small roads to cross from Serbia into Croatia, a European Union member, where officials set up posts to register names and details. Most traveled by bus from Macedonia; others pulled up in taxis before crossing the border on foot and receive a polite reception from authorities.
“We’re the first today,” said the Syrian refugee Dubal. “They’ll be thousands tomorrow.”
Afterward they were taken by bus to a refugee processing camp outside the capital, Zagreb, where they would be officially registered.
What happens to them after Zagreb is uncertain.
Croatian officials say they will likely allow the …Read More
Refugees find paths around Hungary amid clashes on blocked border – Washington Post
By William Booth,