LJUBLJANA/RIGONCE, Slovenia (Reuters) - Slovenia plans to call in private security firms to help manage the flow of thousands of migrants passing through the country toward northern Europe, a senior official said on Monday.
Bostjan Sefic, state secretary at the Interior Ministry, said some 50 to 60 private security officers will help police where needed. More than 76,000 migrants have arrived in Slovenia from Croatia in the past 10 days.
Over 9,000 migrants were still in Slovenia on Monday, hoping to be able to reach Austria by the end of the day, while many more were on their way to Slovenia from Croatia and Serbia.
The emergency measure was announced as Prime Minister Miro Cerar called the migrant crisis the biggest challenge to the European Union in its history.
“If a joint solution is not found, it will start breaking up,” he told a news conference.
Also on Monday, about 2,000 migrants waited in a muddy field in Rogonce, on the border with Croatia, for Slovenian buses to take them to a nearby migrant camp to be registered and allowed to proceed northwards.
“All of my nearest and dearest have left Syria and my family is doing the same. It is not safe there any more,” said Bashir, 20, a film student from a Syrian town of Raqqa. “I want to finish my studies in Norway or Finland and find a decent job.”
Afghan teacher Ali Hussani, 35, said he wanted to go to Germany with his wife and their six-month-old son.
“I am worried that Germany may send us back home. That would not be fair,” he said. “Afghanistan is in the same situation as Syria ... The Taliban killed my brother and they will kill me, too, if I return.”
Slovenia, the smallest country on the Balkan migration route, has already brought in the army to help police. Other EU states have promised to send a total of 400 policemen by the end of this week to help manage the flow of migrants.
Over the past 24 hours, 8,000 migrants arrived in Serbia en route to northern Europe, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said.
Central and eastern European leaders meeting in Brussels on Sunday agreed to increase reception capacity in Greece and other Balkan states and step up efforts to facilitate return of migrants not in need of international protection.
Additional reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; Writing by Marja Novak; Editing by Tom Heneghan