Croatia to Give Refugees Safe Passage Into Europe, Says PM

Updated | Croatia has promised to give refugees safe passage through the country as hundreds begin to arrive after Hungary closed its border with Serbia.

AP reported that Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told the Croatian parliament in Zagreb on Wednesday that "we are ready to accept and direct those people," referring to refugees beginning to arrive in the country.

"They will be able to pass through Croatia and we are working intensively to enable that," added Milanovic. The prime minister also said that Croatia's national security council would meet to deal with the expected rush of refugees seeking alternative routes into Europe.

Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said earlier on Tuesday that 277 refugees have so far crossed into Croatia from Serbia to avoid Hungary's closed border, though he added that the number is rising, Reuters reported.

Croatia is the newest member of the European Union (EU) after joining in 2013. However, Croatia is not part of the Schengen Area—a European zone where EU citizens can move freely across borders without the need for passports. This means that, to cross the border from Croatia into the Schengen-Area Slovenia, a passport or identification is required.

Refugees are reportedly traveling via bus from southern Serbia to the border town of Sid, from where they are walking into Croatia.

The BBC reported that Hungary has detained 367 refugees for entering the country illegally after a state of emergency was enforced on Tuesday, making it illegal for people to breach the razor-wire fence on its Serbian border. The first criminal proceedings against the refugees begun on Wednesday.

This article was updated to reflect new information about the number of refugees entering Croatia from Serbia.