Questions and answers about migrant crisis border issues

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

20 PHOTOS
NTP: Volunteers help migrants
See Gallery
Questions and answers about migrant crisis border issues
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer holds a refugee child on her lap after a boat carrying refugees arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer gives a sandwich to a refugee boy in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A helper puts a jacket at a refugee boy at the 'Bayernkaserne', where clothes for migrants have been collected, in Munich, southern Germany, on September 9, 2015. Hundres of refugees arrive daily in Munich and the border region of Germany. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
MUNICH, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 05: A migrant boy who had arrived on a train from Hungary gets a kiss from a volunteer worker at Munich Hauptbahnhof main railway station on September 5, 2015 in Munich, Germany. Thousands of migrants are traveling to Germany following an arduous ordeal in Hungary that resulted in thousands walking on foot and then being bussed by Hungarian authorities from Budapest to the Austrian-Hungarian border. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer holds a refugee child on her lap after a boat carrying refugees arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer takes a child as a boat carrying refugees arrives in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer talks to an elderly refugee woman after refugee boat arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer covers refugee children with aluminum foil to warm them after arriving Greece's Lesbos Island on September 17, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer talks to a crying refugee toddler after refugee boat arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer checks a refugee after arriving in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer dresses up a refugee child after a boat carrying refugees arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer talks to the refugee children on the coast after a boat carrying refugees arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer holds a refugee child on her arms after a boat carrying refugees arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer holds a baby to help refugees to step off the boat safely after it arrived in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 18, 2015. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. Many refugees who get the boats from Turkey's Canakkale and Balikesir, usually land on Eftalou region of Mithymna city. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: Refugee children who took a boat from Turkey to Lesbos Island play with a toy given by the European volunteers as they wait for a bus to go to Lesbos city center on September 18, 2015. Refugees trying to go to the city center walk almost 5 kilometers from the coast to the Molivos neighborhood to get a bus. Charities have been trying to make agreements with the local bus companies to provide transportation for the refugees. However, as it is hard to find buses, it is almost impossible to predict the time at which the buses will arrive. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: A European volunteer delivers toys to the children as refugees who took a boat from Turkey to Lesbos Island wait for a bus to go to Lesbos city center on September 18, 2015. Refugees trying to go to the city center walk almost 5 kilometers from the coast to the Molivos neighborhood to get a bus. Charities have been trying to make agreements with the local bus companies to provide transportation for the refugees. However, as it is hard to find buses, it is almost impossible to predict the time at which the buses will arrive. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: A European volunteer checks a refugee as another refugee lies on the beach after arriving in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LESBOS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 17: European volunteers help a woman refugee to step off the boat safely in Lesbos Island, Greece on September 17, 2015. European volunteers who came to Greece's Lesbos Island provide food, drinks and clothing for refugees. Volunteers check the coasts of the Lesbos Island with their binoculars every morning to see if any boat carrying refugees arrives in the island. Refugees who begin a journey with a hope to have high living standards away from conflicts, continue using Greece's Lesbos island as a transit point on their way to Europe. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
FREILASSING, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 16: A volunteer ditributes water to migrants who had arrived on foot from the Salzburg train station in Austria and were held up by police at a bridge before crossing the border to Germany on September 16, 2015 at Freilassing, Germany. Hundreds of migrants who had been stuck in Salzburg and unable to find available seats on trains going to Germany broke off in groups to reach the nearby border to Germany on foot. German authorities have temporarily reinstated border controls along Germany's border to Austria and are conducting spot checks on arriving traffic. Germany is still accepting up to thousands of new migrants daily but has imposed border controls in order to crack down on smugglers and to better regulate the flow of arriving migrants, tens of thousands of whom arrived in Germany over the last few weeks. Meanwhile Hungary has sealed it new fence along its border to Serbia and migrants are now heading to Croatia in an effort to reach western Europe.. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


BRUSSELS (AP) -- The movement of tens of thousands of people toward Western Europe is overwhelming border authorities from Greece through the Balkans to Hungary and Slovenia.

Hungary's crackdown on its border with Serbia has set off a chain reaction. EU member Croatia is the latest to feel the squeeze and said Friday that it lacks the capacity to deal with more than 14,000 people who entered in just two days.

Nations have begun trading accusations about border obligations and other issues as Croatia transports people the long way round, from its border with Serbia to Hungary or further north to Slovenia.

Here are some questions and answers about the legal principles involved:

Q: Who gets to stay and who doesn't?

A: People arriving in Europe can apply for asylum or some other form of international protection if they are fleeing conflict such as the civil war in Syria and fear violence or death. Others, mostly economic migrants looking for work, are supposed to return home.

Q: What is the Dublin Regulation?

A: Under the so-called Dublin Regulation that governs the Schengen passport-free area, people wishing to apply for asylum must do so in the first member country they arrive in. In practice, Greece, the first landing point for many of those currently making their way through Europe, has been so overwhelmed by the almost 350,000 people who have arrived this year that it is unable to screen them.

Q: What is the Schengen passport-free area and how does it work?

A: The Schengen area is a group of 26 countries that have agreed to establish border controls, so you don't need a passport to travel between them once you're inside the area. Hungary and Slovenia are members, while Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia are not. Members of the zone are supposed to provide robust security at their borders with the outside world, in part by checking the passports of everyone entering their territory against a customs and criminal database. Schengen countries are only obliged to keep their external borders open during business hours. The way nations enforce those rules is their concern. Hungary, for example, insists that the razor-wire fence it has erected to keep migrants out entirely respects the laws because it has gates open during the day. EU partners argue that this does not reflect the spirit of the law.

Q: So what happens if someone applies for asylum in the first Schengen country he or she enters, then leaves before it's granted?

A: In theory, a person stopped in a Schengen area country other than the one where he or she first applied for asylum is supposed to be sent back to the first country, which should be Greece or Italy for most people currently traveling through Europe. In practice, it's a logistical nightmare, so it hasn't been happening much. Countries can decide not to apply the Dublin Convention and allow people to apply for asylum in their territory instead, which Germany has done for Syrian refugees.

Q: What about countries that aren't in the Schengen area?

A: Like all countries, non-Schengen nations Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia have their own visa regimes. Given the sheer numbers, these countries have been unable to enforce national visa laws, let alone register people. People who want to specifically apply for asylum there may do so, but most want to move on to countries like Germany and Sweden. As of Friday, for instance, only person out of the thousands who have been making their way through Croatia over the past few days had applied for asylum. The European Union has "readmission" agreements with Serbia and Macedonia, meaning that anyone arriving from there may be sent back at the request of an EU member state.

Q: Who gets sent home?

A: If a person does not qualify for asylum, he or she must return home, but at the moment, less than 40 percent of people are actually sent back. Given the scale of the migration challenge, the number of returns is likely to increase. Hungary says it aims to decide whether someone is eligible for asylum within eight to 10 days. The average time now is about nine months. Some people in Italy have been waiting two years for rulings on their applications.

Related video: Refugee crisis -- 5 ways you can help

Refugee Crisis: 5 Ways You Can Help

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners