European leaders will meet in Brussels on Sunday for an extraordinary meeting on how to deal with Europe’s refugee crisis as winter approaches.
The mini-summit will involve the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
More than 680,000 migrants and refugees have landed in Europe by sea this year, fleeing conflict in countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea, the International Organization for Migration said.
Amnesty International said the leaders could not leave the meeting “without a workable plan of action” as thousands of people camp in night-time temperatures of around 41 degrees.
Many refugees and migrants try to enter the EU through the Balkans region of southeast Europe, including countries such as Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia.
In an interview in German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Every day counts…otherwise we will soon see families in cold rivers in the Balkans perish miserably.
“The challenge now is to slow down the flow of migration and to bring our external borders under control. We must also make it clear that people who arrive at our borders who are not looking for international protection have no right to enter the EU,” he added.
John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “As winter looms, the sight of thousands of refugees sleeping rough as they make their way through Europe represents a damning indictment of the European Union’s failure to offer a forward thinking and coordinated response to the refugee crisis.
“The EU has the mechanisms and, collectively, the money to ensure adequate reception conditions to all arriving refugees and migrants; these must be used to end the march of misery being endured by hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants.”
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