Greece says Macedonia closed its borders to Afghan migrants

IDOMENI, Greece -- Macedonia closed its border to Afghan migrants early Sunday, Greek police said, slowing the admission of refugees to a trickle and leaving a growing bottleneck of people stuck at their shared border.

See Full Article

A Macedonian police spokeswoman denied there was any new prohibition regarding Afghans, blaming the problem on Serbia, the next nation along the Balkans migration route into Western Europe.

By early afternoon, about 1,000 migrants were waiting at the Greek border camp in Idomeni -- and at a gas station only 17 kilometres (11 miles) away, 80 buses with 4,000 more migrants were waiting to take them to the border.

Greek police said Macedonia refused to let Afghans through because Serbia made the same decision and officials feared the migrants would get stuck in Macedonia.

"The authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia informed us that, beginning at dawn Sunday, they no longer accept Afghan refugees because the same problem exists at their border with Serbia," Petros Tanos, spokesman for Greek police's Central Macedonia division, told The Associated Press.

Despite the reports, about 500 migrants of all nationalities made the trek on foot from the gas station to the border Sunday.

"I can no longer wait," said 17-year-old Ali Nowroz, one of the trekkers from the Afghan city of Jaghori Zeba. "We have spent three nights in the cold, we are hungry. They told me that the borders have been closed to us. However, when I started from Afghanistan I knew borders were open for us. I am going to the Idomeni border crossing to find out and ask why they have closed it."

Since dawn Sunday, only 150 refugees from Iraq and Syria were allowed into Macedonia, on top of 310 allowed in Saturday.

At the border Sunday, two Macedonian and two Czech policemen were thoroughly inspecting the documents of Iraqi and Syrian migrants and would only let them pass if they had passports or ID cards. Previously, Macedonian authorities had accepted Greek police documents attesting that an individual had been processed.

"Me and my brother have been waiting for three days here but we cannot cross because we have no passports," said Hadi Dakhil, a 25-year-old from the Iraqi city of Shingal. "The Turks confiscated them and, without them, the Macedonian authorities will not accept us."

EU countries have sought to cap the influx of refugees after more than one million people entered in 2015. Nations along the entry route have agreed to jointly control the flow of migrants through their territories.

Macedonian police spokeswoman Natalija Spirova Kordikj told the AP that her country had not closed its borders to Afghans, saying nine had been admitted Saturday and one came through after midnight. Kordikj said it was Serbia that had stopped admitting Afghans.

At a migrant collection centre in Tabanovce, on the Macedonian side of its border with Serbia, 617 Afghan refugees are waiting to be allowed into Serbia, Kordikj said.

A Serbian official, in turn, said the decision to block refugees from Afghanistan was made by Austria and Slovenia. Serbian Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin said Sunday that "everyone can move in accordance with the rules set by Austria and Slovenia."

"Serbia does not decide who can pass through its territory without consulting the states up the migrant route," he said. "(Our) borders are open, Serbia has not closed its borders with Macedonia or Bulgaria in any way."

At the Idomeni refugee camp, Greek police prevented Afghan migrants from crossing the border, and back at the gas station, they persuaded some to board buses back to Athens, 540 kilometres (335 miles) away.

A high-ranking Greek police officer who insisted on anonymity said police were trying to avoid a pileup of rejected refugees that could lead to violence.

So far, the Afghan refugees are peaceful but frustrated.

"I have been in the camp for two days, waiting to cross and continue my journey to Germany," said Masoud Jahangirg, 19. "They informed us today that borders are closed to us and I wonder why. I don't know what to do. I can only wait. But why accept only the Syrians and the Iraqis and not us?"



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Pakistani plane with more than 40 people aboard crashes

    World News CBC News
    A Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying more than 40 people crashed on Wednesday en route to Islamabad from the northern city of Chitral, a regional police official said. The national flag carrier confirmed in a statement that Flight PK-661 had lost contact with air traffic controllers on Wednesday afternoon. Source
  • ISIS launches overnight attack against Iraqi troops in Mosul

    World News CTV News
    MOSUL, Iraq -- Islamic State militants launched an overnight attack against Iraqi security forces in the southeastern part of Mosul, a day after troops advanced deeper into that part of the city, Iraq's military said Wednesday. Source
  • Syrian rebels pull back further as military gains in Aleppo

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Syrian government troops and allied militiamen seized more ground in Aleppo's ancient quarters on Wednesday, further widening their control over an enclave in the divided city that has been in rebel hands since 2012, Syria's state media and an opposition monitoring group said. Source
  • 60 feared drowned off Yemen after boat disappears

    World News CBC News
    The Yemeni government says 60 nationals are feared drowned in the Arabian Sea after their vessel went missing late last week. In a statement, the internationally recognized government said Tuesday the vessel disappeared some 40 kilometres from the remote Socotra island five days ago. Source
  • Critics worry after Trump security chief fuels conspiracies

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- On issues of national security and intelligence, no one is likely to have more influence in Donald Trump's White House than retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn. Yet Flynn, Trump's incoming national security adviser, has gained prominence in Republican politics by fueling conspiracy theories and Islamophobic rhetoric that critics warn could create serious distractions -- or alienate allies and embolden enemies -- if it continues. Source
  • Liberals hold on to honeymoon gains in national polls

    Canada News CBC News
    Justin Trudeau's Liberals continue to enjoy more support today than they did in the 2015 federal election and have yet to see their poll numbers take a negative turn. But as the government enters the second year of its four-year mandate, it's making decisions that have the potential to disappoint some of its new supporters. Source
  • Millions of vehicles with potentially dangerous recalls still on road

    Canada News CBC News
    Millions of vehicles in Canada, an estimated one in six, have an outstanding safety recall, and auto industry experts say not enough is being done to fix them. These include cars with safety defects that may result in crashes, injury or death, according to the manufacturers. Source
  • 'Danger Report': Real estate pros fret court could break lock on secret sales data

    Canada News CBC News
    There's little doubt Canada's real estate industry feels under siege these days. Just check out the recent Danger Report commissioned by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which analyzes "negative game changers emerging in real estate. Source
  • The architects of Ontario's energy disaster are in the PMO. Be afraid

    Canada News CBC News
    It is uncontroversial to call Ontario's energy situation a disaster. As Premier Kathleen Wynne has herself conceded: Ontarians are now having to "choose between paying the electricity bill and buying food or paying rent." Wynne's polling numbers suggest that most Ontarians know where to square the blame, with a pitiful 15 per cent approval rating and the 58 per cent of the electorate believing she should resign. Source
  • 'Shocking waste': Federal government spent more than $400K to renovate new office building

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government spent more than $416,000 to renovate a two-year-old office building in downtown Ottawa, including paying more than $5,000 for 56 coat hooks. Among the taxpayer-funded renovations carried out to the 17-floor Elgin Street office tower since the Liberal government came to power: $52,413 to build a bike storage room; $59,451 for new furniture; and $3,426 to "modify the lighting to an existing quiet room" by installing a window film and a dimmer…