2nd Syrian child's washed up body refocuses attention on refugee crisis

At least 70 people drowned in international waters between Greece & Turkey in the first half of September.

Turkish Kurds gather in Suruc in Sanliurfa province on the Turkish-Syrian border to show support for the people of the Syrian town of Kobane in June 2015. Picture: AFP.

ISTANBUL - The discovery of a four-year-old Syrian girl's body on another Turkish coastline has re-focused attention on the refugee crisis sweeping Europe as politicians continue to argue over how to deal with the influx.

The lifeless body of the unidentified girl was discovered this afternoon just weeks after images of three year old Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi sent shock waves through the world.

Meanwhile, After suddenly landing in the path of the biggest migration in Europe for decades, Croatia said on Friday it could no longer offer them refuge and would wave them onwards, challenging the EU to find a policy to receive them.

The migrants, mostly from poor or war-torn countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, have streamed into Croatia since Wednesday, after Hungary blocked what had been the main route with a metal fence and riot police at its border with Serbia.

"We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer," Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a news conference in the capital Zagreb.

"They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant 'hotspot'. We have hearts, but we also have heads."

The arrival of 13,000 in the space of 48 hours, many crossing fields and some dodging police, has proved too much for one of the EU's less prosperous states in a crisis that has divided the 28-nation bloc and left it scrambling to respond.

A record 473,887 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, the International Organization for Migration said, most of them from countries at war such as Syria who are seeking a better, safer life.

Hundreds of thousands have been trekking across the Balkan peninsula to reach the richer European countries north and west, especially Germany, which is preparing to accept 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

But that has wrongfooted the European Union, which has come up with no common policy to deal with the biggest wave of migration to Western Europe since World War Two.

Hungary acted on its own to shut the main route this week by closing its border with Serbia, leaving thousands of migrants scattered across the Balkans searching for alternative paths.

Croatia, offering one of the few overland routes to Germany that would bypass Hungary, found itself suddenly overwhelmed.

Despite Hungary's hardline stance, it did take in some migrants on Friday that Croatia expelled. Ferried to the border in buses, they were watched by police and soldiers as they were transferred onto other buses across the border in Hungary, where police said they would be registered.


At least 1,000 migrants crossed by train and bus northward into Hungary from Croatia on Friday under the watch of Hungarian security forces sworn to keep them out - a snapshot of the confusion and contradiction of a divided Europe.

Even as Hungary's army rushed to erect a fence along parts of its frontier with Croatia, a fellow member of the European Union, Hungarian soldiers and police did not prevent the migrants from crossing the border, first in their hundreds by bus and then more than 1,000 by train.

Their transfer came just hours after Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that - with the inflow into his country topping 13,000 in little more than two days - matters were out of control and that his government could no longer register or accommodate the new arrivals. They would be waved on, he said.

A Hungarian police spokesperson said the migrants were being taken to two Hungarian registration points in Szentgotthard and Vamosszabadi -- both close to the Austrian border.

Hungary denied coordinating the move with Croatia, while Austria denied coordinating it with Hungary, reinforcing the sense of chaos prevailing in Europe as it grapples with the biggest migration crisis in decades.

Only on Wednesday, Hungary had fired volleys of tear gas and water cannon to keep out stone-throwing migrants on its border with Serbia, the second day of a crackdown that right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban says is designed to defend "Christian" Europe from hundreds of thousands of mainly Muslim migrants.

Thousands of migrants switched their route, streaming into Croatia, and then on Friday into Hungary and Slovenia in what critics say is becoming a desperate game of human ping-pong.

At the Hungarian border village of Beremend, police and soldiers at first lined up, backed with two army Humvees mounted with machine guns, to block the path of more than 10 busloads of migrants arriving at the border from Croatia.

Then, they ushered them onto Hungarian buses, saying they would be taken for registration. Later, a train packed with over 1,000 migrants crossed the border and stopped at the Hungarian town of Magyarboly, where they were directed by police and soldiers onto another train on an adjacent platform.

"They will have to get off at Hegyeshalom anyway," a police officer was overheard telling a colleague, in reference to a town on Hungary's border with Austria. The officer denied any knowledge of the train's destination when asked by a reporter.