LJUBLJANA/RIGONCE, Slovenia (Reuters) - Slovenia called on the European Union to take immediate action to stem the flow of refugees and migrants into the 28-member bloc as thousands more arrived in the small Alpine country on Saturday.
Some 58,000 migrants and refugees heading to Germany and Austria have arrived in Slovenia over the last week, shifting their route to the west after Hungary sealed its borders and prompting Slovenia to propose a meeting in Brussels on Sunday.
Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s office issued a statement calling for “an immediate operational response from the EU” at Sunday’s meeting between regional leaders and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
It said the EU response should “ease the burden on the most exposed countries ... and start an EU action that would stop the uncontrolled migration flows on the outer borders of the EU.”
Juncker has invited the leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia to attend the talks.
With a population of two million, Slovenia is the smallest country on the migrant route. Police said about 9,000 migrants were still in the country on Saturday with more on their way.
“We want to go to the Netherlands. I just want this ordeal to stop. There’s no way back and I‘m ready to do anything to secure a future to my son,” said Hamrein, 20, from Syria, as she held her feverish six-month-old son.
She was among about 2,000 migrants and refugees waiting in a muddy field near the Slovenian village of Rigonce to cross to a nearby camp, braving cold and foggy weather. Many lit fires and wrapped themselves in blankets as early morning temperatures sank close to zero.
Many needed medical assistance being provided by Slovenian doctors and volunteers from Austria, Switzerland and Hungary.
The migrants hoped to reach Austria later on Saturday but many more are behind them with about 8,500 migrants entering Serbia over the past 24 hours in order to continue their way to Croatia, Slovenia and then Austria.
Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania said on Saturday they would close their borders if Germany did so in order to prevent large numbers of migrants becoming stranded in the Balkans.
Slovenia had said on Friday it would consider putting up a fence on its border with Croatia unless a solution is found at Sunday’s meeting.
Croatia has said walls are not the solution, advocating a common EU approach to tackle the situation on the border between Greece and Turkey, the main entry point.
“We won’t just sit idle watching how the others are building fences around us,” Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said.
Additonal reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Igor Ilic; Writing by Marja Novak; Editing by Helen Popper