Dozens of refugees have reached Croatia – opening up a new route to northern EU countries, a day after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia.
The refugees crossed into Croatia, an EU member, from Serbia.
Croatia says it is ready to receive them or “direct” them to where they want to go. Many migrants – mainly Syrian – are hoping to reach Germany.
New border restrictions and a row over allocating migrants have shown bitter divisions in Europe over the crisis.
Hundreds of refugees remain stranded outside or in makeshift tents near the Serbian border with Hungary.
On September 15, Hungary declared a state of emergency in the border area, with hundreds of army and police deployed to enforce new laws making it an offence to breach a razor-wire border fence.
Police sealed a railway crossing point near Roszke which had been used by tens of thousands of migrants to enter the European border-free Schengen zone.
The move has all but stopped the inflow.
On September 16, Hungarian police said they had detained 367 refugees entering illegally – and the first criminal proceedings have been launched.
The EU’s border agency says more than 500,000 refugees have arrived at the EU’s borders so far this year, compared with 280,000 in 2014.
Many are fleeing conflict and poverty in countries including Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011.
The refugees have been crossing from Turkey, with about 1,000 in the city of Edirne on September 16, waiting to organize a crossing into Greece. Their journey would then take them to Macedonia and Serbia.
Until September 15, most poured into Schengen member Hungary and crossed into Austria to reach Germany. Both Germany and Austria have introduced tighter border controls to control the flow.
A group of about 40 refugees arrived in the border town of Sid in Serbia on September 16. They had travelled by bus from the Serbian town of Presevo near the Macedonian border in the south.
They crossed into Croatia where police began registering them.
Croatia’s PM Zoran Milanovic told parliament that authorities were “entirely ready to receive or direct those people where they want to go, which is obviously Germany or Scandinavian countries”.
“They will be able to pass through Croatia and we will help, we’re getting ready for that possibility,” he said.
A meeting of the Croatian National Security Council has been called to co-ordinate the response.
Croatian media have warned of the dangers posed by landmines dating back to Croatia’s war of independence in the early 1990s, even though experts say the areas are clearly marked.
The Serbian minister in charge of the government’s working committee on migrants, Aleksandar Vulin, argued that the closure of the border by Hungary was unsustainable for Serbia.
Hungary has said it could extend its fence to the border with Romania – a possible new route.
Romania said this would violate the “European spirit” of co-operation.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich says his country will not allow Bulgaria or Romania to join the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone if the issue is put to a vote in the EU on Thursday.
“If Romania and Bulgaria insist on a vote, the attempt will fail because of a German veto,” Hans-Peter Friedrich said.
Both countries must take further steps to prevent migrants abusing the system, he told Germany’s Spiegel news website.
Bulgaria and Romania have sought Schengen entry since joining the EU in 2007.
Most EU countries, and some others including Switzerland and Norway, are in the Schengen zone, where border controls for those countries’ citizens are minimal or non-existent.
The UK and Republic of Ireland opted to stay out. In the UK, the governing Conservative Party is considering ways to limit immigration from Bulgaria and Romania when EU labor market restrictions are removed for the two countries next year.
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich says his country will not allow Bulgaria or Romania to join the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone
Schengen will be discussed by EU home affairs and justice ministers on Thursday.
Hans-Peter Friedrich said “the right of free movement gives all people in Europe the opportunity to come to another country for work, for education, but it’s not allowed to come only to Germany or Great Britain to get social security”. The minister is in the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), allied to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“That’s the reason why we want to send people back, and this is what we have to regulate in our European law… There is no problem when people are coming to Germany for work, that’s what we want in Europe, but we don’t want people coming only to have social security,” he said.
The Netherlands has previously voted to delay the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen, arguing that both countries need to step up measures against corruption and organized crime.
Certain areas of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport have been closed after a suspected World War II bomb was discovered, a spokeswoman said.
The departure hall serving most European destinations has been evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Delays are now affecting some departures and passengers are advised to check their flights before leaving for the airport.
A bomb disposal team is trying to establish whether the device is live.
Certain areas of Amsterdam's Schiphol airport have been closed after a suspected World War II bomb was discovered
The bomb was uncovered by workers digging near Pier C, which connects the main plaza with Departure Hall One, serving most destinations within Europe’s 26-country passport-free Schengen zone.
“This will have a big impact. We can park planes somewhere else to some extent but at some point it will lead to cancellations or delays,” the spokeswoman said earlier, according to Reuters news agency.
Schiphol was used as a military airfield by Nazi Germany during the 1939-45 war, and was often attacked by allied bombers, Dutch media said.
It is now one of Europe’s busiest airports, handling some 48 million passengers every year.
Unexploded bombs dating back to the war are still frequently discovered in Europe.
A 550 lb (250 kg) American bomb was detonated by a bomb disposal team in the German city of Munich on Tuesday.
A 1.5-tonne mortar bomb probably fired by Nazi forces was also safely removed from the Polish capital, Warsaw.