Migrant Hotspot Slovenia Pins Hopes on EU Visit amid Record Influx

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The EU's migration commissioner is to visit new migrant hotspot Slovenia on Thursday to discuss its request for urgent support, as the small nation buckled under a record surge of refugees desperate to reach northern Europe before winter.

Slovenia is now the main entry point into the passport-free Schengen zone on the migrant trail, after Hungary sealed its key southern borders with razor-wire fence to migrants.

As Ljubljana struggles to cope with the influx, EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is to visit Thursday to discuss its request for backup from police forces in other EU countries and financial assistance.

More than 12,600 people streamed into the nation of two million people within 24 hours, police said Thursday morning.

This brings the total number of arrivals to 34,130 migrants since Saturday when Budapest shut its Croatian frontier, just a month after closing its border with Serbia.

In view of "the unfolding emergency" in the region, the European Commission called a mini-summit with Balkan leaders on Sunday, acknowledging there was "a need for much greater cooperation... and immediate operational action".

The continent has been struggling to find a unified response on how to tackle its biggest migration crisis since 1945.

More than 600,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have braved the dangerous journey to Europe so far this year, the U.N. said.

Of these, over 3,000 have drowned or gone missing as they set off from Turkey in inflatable boats seeking to reach Greece, the starting point for the migrants' long trek north.

The Turkish government on Wednesday warned it was bracing for a new mass exodus from neighboring Syria amid escalating violence there.

The goal for many is the EU's biggest economy Germany, which expects to receive up to a million asylum requests this year.

With the crisis showing no sign of abating, France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reinforced security in the port city of Calais from where migrants and refugees try to cross to Britain.

He also announced that women and children would be given heated tents, as arrivals in a makeshift camp face a dip in temperature.

More than 10,000 people were in Slovenian registration centers on Thursday morning hoping to continue their journey to Austria, whose border refugee camp was also bursting with new arrivals.

Further south, between 2,000 and 3,000 more migrants also remained stranded near Croatia's border with Slovenia.

Several hundred stood shivering in cold weather and fog at the Berkasovo checkpoint where progress was slow on Thursday, an AFP photographer said.

The crowd chanted "Open! Open!" as Croatian police were only allowing a trickle of people through every 15 minutes.

Many migrants had spent the night in makeshift tents on the roadside, with temperatures plunging close to zero Celsius degrees (32 F).

In the face of such tough conditions, people often resort to lighting makeshift fires to warm themselves.

On Wednesday, there was a moment of panic at another Croatian border crossing when 27 tents suddenly caught fire at the Brezice refugee camp.

Firefighters managed to quickly extinguish the blaze, whose cause remained unclear.

With at least 9,000 people landing on Europe's beaches every day, there appears to be no end to the human tide surging into the bloc.

EU conservative parties meeting in Madrid Wednesday called for the bloc's external borders to be strengthened, warning the flow of migrants could "destabilize" the region.

But European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe had a duty to help the migrants.

"I don't often cry but when I see, night after night, this long procession of refugees which reminds me of images from the end of World War Two... it almost makes me cry," he said Wednesday.

Last month, the EU approved plans to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from overstretched frontline states Italy and Greece with a compulsory quota system that was fiercely opposed by some eastern, more hardline members of the bloc.

The proposal requires most of the 28 member states to accept a share of those people over the course of two years.

Member states have been slow to follow up with promised financial help -- out of the 2.8 billion euros ($3.2 billion) pledged at an emergency EU summit on September 23, only about 474 million euros has materialized.

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