On the march to western Europe: Shocking pictures show thousands of determined men, women and children trudging across the Balkans as politicians warn EU could collapse in weeks
- Battling howling winds, driving rain and icy temperatures, thousands of migrants today marched into Slovenia
- Photographed from above, the refugees formed a single column as they crossed into the country from Croatia
- It comes as Slovenia's Prime Minister warns the EU will break up if leaders cannot agree on how to deal with crisis
- For more of the latest news on Europe's refugee crisis visit http://www.dailymail.co.uk/refugeecrisis
Battling strong winds, driving rain, mud and freezing temperatures, these stunning photographs show a slow trek of thousands of migrants making their way to Europe amid the harsh conditions of the oncoming winter.
As one European leader warns the ever growing crisis will see the EU fall apart 'in weeks', tens of thousands of people are continuing to try and reach the Eurozone via the arduous Balkans route.
And as these pictures show, they are prepared to do so despite often overwhelmingly difficult conditions.
The huge column of migrants passes through fields in Rigonce, Slovenia, after having been held at the Croatia border for several days
As winter approaches, many migrants are forced to wait in freezing temperatures, driving rain and howling winds
The column of migrants are just a handful of the tens of thousands to have crossed into the country in the past week
The column of migrants was filmed from the sky as it weaved through fields in Rigonce, Slovenia, after having passed into the country from Croatia.
Tens of thousands of people are trying to reach central and northern Europe via the Balkans, but often have to wait for days in mud and rain at the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian borders.
Slovenia's premier this weekend warned the European Union that it 'is weeks away from falling apart' if the bloc cannot agree on a plan to confront the sudden influx of refugees through the Balkans.
Nine days after Hungary's move to seal its southern border drove unprecedented migrant flows into tiny Slovenia, Prime Minister Miro Cerar sent out a dramatic call to fellow central and eastern leaders in Brussels for emergency talks.
He said: 'If we don't find a solution today, if we don't do everything we can today, then it is the end of the European Union as such. If we don't deliver concrete action, I believe Europe will start falling apart.'
Since October 17, more than 62,000 migrants have arrived in Slovenia, with some 14,000 still passing through the country on today alone.
Cerar said Croatia, which has already seen some 230,000 migrants pass through since mid-September, was still waiving migrants through into Slovenia without alerting Slovenia authorities.
Solvenia's premier has complained about the country's influx of migrants triggered by its neighbour Hungary's construction of a barrier
Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia have all now warned they could close their borders if Germany and Austria stop accepting migrants.
More than 680,000 migrants and refugees have crossed to Europe by sea so far this year from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Following years of economic crisis, Europe's governments are struggling to cope with an influx of people from countries including Syria, where Russia's intervention has complicated efforts to end nearly five years of civil war.
Hungary’s decision to seal its borders left crowds of migrants camping by the side of the road in worsening weather.
As a result of their new border fencing, migrants switched to Croatia, which also imposed border controls, pushing them into Slovenia.
Now the domino effect is threatening to destroy the Schengen Agreement for passport-free travel within the EU.
As EU leaders met at a Brussels summit, Mr Cerar said: ‘If we do not deliver some immediate and concrete actions on the ground in the next few days and weeks I believe the EU and Europe as a whole will start falling apart.’
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker highlighted the need for leaders to reach a consensus on the crisis by invoking the plight of migrants as the winter months approach.
Miro Cerar, Slovenia's Prime Minister, claims Croatia was waiving migrants through into his country without warning local authorities
A young girl looks at the photographer from inside the column of migrants, which was pictured marching through fields in Slovenia
In an interview published earlier today in German newspaper Bild, Juncker urged countries to stop handing on migrants to neighbouring states in chaotic conditions.
'The European Commission expects everyone to obey the rules of the game if we don't want to put Schengen at risk,' Juncker said.
He insisted that ‘every day counts’, adding: ‘Otherwise, we will soon see families in cold rivers in the Balkans perish miserably.’
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov warned that if Germany and Austria closed their borders with his country, Romania and Serbia would respond in kind.
‘The three countries, we are standing ready, if Germany and Austria close their borders, not to allow our countries to become buffer zones,’ Mr Borisov said.
‘We will not expose our countries to the devastating pressure of millions that would come.’ The comments expose the huge divisions between EU states over how to deal with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants. Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said his country had the ‘right to defend’ itself against countries which build fences.
‘We carry out our obligations, we are in solidarity with all of Europe,’ he said. ‘But the responsibility cannot be put with just some countries.’
Serbia, which is not in the EU, also said it was struggling to cope. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said: ‘It is important for the people to know that it is not a problem to register (migrants), or build bigger centres, nothing of this is a problem for Serbia.
‘But if someone thinks that we can be the place for two or three million refugees, this is unrealistic.’
With winter looming, Amnesty International on Saturday warned of a humanitarian disaster if migrants are stranded at borders.
Turkey, the starting point for most of the migrants, was absent from the meeting but was on leaders' minds, with officials viewing its help as crucial in stemming the influx to Europe.
'It is very, very important that the European Commission continues to speak with Turkey on the migrant crisis agenda,' said Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel, who came back from a trip to Turkey this month vowing to push forward the country's long-stalled EU membership bid.
Turkey is pressing the EU for funds, visa-free travel, accelerated membership talks and resumed participation in EU summits in return for cooperation in stemming the refugee flow.