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Chaos reign as Europe confronts refugee crisis

Thousands of migrants were stranded in the western Balkans on Saturday as Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia tussled over the EU’s escalating refugee crisis.

Chaos, rumour and proliferating border obstacles braked thousands of desperate people on their trek to reach northern Europe and turn the page on war or poverty.

In the latest hurdle, Hungary said it had completed a second frontier fence designed to keep illegal migrants out.

Migrants and refugees hold European Union member countries flags during a demonstration at Istanbul’s Esenler Bus Terminal after authorities withheld tickets to Turkish border towns. Hundreds of refugees camped out at the main bus station in Istanbul for a fifth night running after being refused tickets for Edirne, some 250 kilometres (150 miles) away. Many of the refugees seeking to leave Turkey have been living in the country for months, sometimes years, after fleeing the bloody civil war in neighbouring Syria. AFP

A 41-kilometre (25-mile) barbed-wire barrier along part of its frontier with fellow EU member Croatia «was finished overnight Friday,» defence spokesman Attila Kovacs told AFP in Budapest.

The remaining 330 km of the border runs roughly along the Drava river, which is difficult to cross.

The new barrier adds to a barbed-wire fence that Hungary set down along its frontier with Serbia, and backed with laws threatening illegal migrants with jail.

That move sparked fierce condemnation internationally and forced the migrant flow towards neighbouring Croatia.

Reversing an open-door policy, Croatia on Friday said it was swamped and redirected the migrants back to Hungary.

Thousands crossed from Croatia to Hungary before the final section of the fence was completed, Budapest said.

Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic on Friday said that Zagreb and Budapest had agreed to allow «vulnerable migrants» to cross.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said Saturday the policy of redirection would continue.

«There has not been an agreement with Hungary,» he said in a visit to Beli Manastir, near the Hungarian border.

«We have in some way compelled them to accept the refugees by sending them (to the border) and we will continue to do so.»

On the Croatian border with Slovenia, another EU member, hundreds of migrants spent the night in the open at the Bregana crossing, state-run HRT television reported.

At Harmica, several dozen migrants faced off with a cordon of riot police on the frontier bridge, demanding that Slovenian police let them enter the country, an AFP reporter saw.

Late Friday, police used tear gas against several hundred migrants, some with children, who had sought to push through the police line.

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