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  • Two refugee girls wait to cross the border between Serbia and Croatia in Tovarnik

    Two refugee girls wait to cross the border between Serbia and Croatia in Tovarnik | Photo: EFE

Published 21 September 2015

Austria, as well as Serbia and Croatia, have joined other European countries in temporarily closing their borders.

Croatia closed on Monday its last checkpoint for trucks on the Serbian border where thousands of refugees are waiting to cross in the hope of a better life .

Authorities announced the measure after closing seven other check points that over 27,000 refugees passed in recent days. Around 80 percent of the refugees come from conflict zones like Syria, Iraq, according to the U.N. Refugees Office representative in Budapest Babar Baloch, while the other 20 percent mostly come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burundi and other places in Africa.

A group of dissident European countries including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Letonia, rejected earlier this month the idea of a mandatory quota system imposed by France and Germany in a bid to share the responsibility for welcoming refugees.

RELATED: Branding Refugees as ‘Threats,’ Eastern Europe Intensifies Rhetoric

Austria, as well as Serbia and Croatia, have all decided to temporarily close their borders. Meanwhile, refugees are accumulating in inhumane conditions on the Greek islands and in Turkey, as authorities fall short of staff and facilities to welcome them and provide them with the documentation to continue their journey.

Various international and regional bodies immediately slammed the decision. Among others, the head of the Syrian commission of U.N. Human Rights Council, Brazilian Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, condemned the international failure to stop the war in Syria, responsible for the most part of the massive migration movement toward Europe.

Meanwhile, the regional body Mercosur (which counts Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, while Bolivia is still in the process of integrating the bloc) also approved a declaration Monday rejecting the “xenophobic” attitudes of European countries who chose to close their borders before the massive influx of refugees, as they are fleeing war and poverty in their country of origin.

The declaration was approved with an overwhelming majority in Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, and also expresses the bloc's willingness to find a solution to the issue in international and multilateral forums.

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