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

  • University of Lethbridge professor accused of anti-Semitic views reinstated

    Canada News CBC News
    A professor accused of espousing anti-Semitic views has been reinstated at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. The university confirms Anthony Hall is no longer suspended, but won't comment further. The board of governors and the faculty association also said in a statement that issues around Hall's activities will be addressed in the context of the faculty handbook, but they didn't explain how that would be done. Source
  • National housing plan sparks fresh calls for Liberals to help homeless vets

    Canada News CBC News
    The Trudeau government is facing calls to produce its long-awaited plan to help homeless veterans in Canada, after their plight received only a passing mention in the Liberals' new national housing strategy. The government has been working for more than a year on a plan to support homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless, who advocates say need and deserve extra attention after serving in uniform. Source
  • Manitoba Judge Vic Toews drops court challenge of ethics commissioner ruling

    Canada News CBC News
    Manitoba Judge Vic Toews has dropped his court challenge of a federal ethic's commissioner ruling that found he violated the Conflict of Interest Act when he received money from two Manitoba First Nations. A Federal Court document shows Toews, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, filed a notice of discontinuance earlier this month. Source
  • Interpol: 40 human traffickers arrested, 236 children saved

    World News CTV News
    PARIS - Interpol says 40 suspected human traffickers have been arrested and nearly 500 of their victims freed in a vast police operation in five African countries. The France-based international police agency said in a statement late Thursday that 236 of those rescued were minors. Source
  • Sobeys to lay off 800 workers across Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    The Sobeys grocery business will be cutting about 800 office jobs across Canada as part of efforts to create one efficient national organization out of five regional operations, the company announced Friday. "The future success of Sobeys, and our continued service to over 900 communities across the country, depends on our steadfast commitment to transform our business," said Michael Medline, who is chief executive of Sobeys and its parent company, Empire Co. Source
  • One boater rescued, another missing, in Kitimat harbour

    Canada News CTV News
    KITIMAT, B.C. -- A search continued early Friday for a missing boater in Kitimat harbour. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said two people were on board a four-metre long aluminum vessel when it overturned Thursday night in heavy rain and near zero visibility. Source
  • Mosque bombing, gunfire in Egypt's north Sinai leave dozens dead

    World News CBC News
    Egyptian security officials say militants have attacked a mosque in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, leaving dozens of casualties. Egypt state news agency MENA reports 54 killed, 75 wounded. The three police officers say the extremists attacked the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, 40 kilometres from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish. Source
  • Egypt militants attack mosque in Sinai, casualties reported

    World News CTV News
    EL-ARISH, Egypt - Egyptian security officials say militants have attacked a mosque in the volatile Sinai Peninsula, leaving dozens of casualties. The three police officers say the extremists attacked the al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, 40 kilometres from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish. Source
  • Militants assault worshippers in Sinai, killing at least 85

    World News CTV News
    EL-ARISH, Egypt -- Militants bombed a Sufi mosque and fired on worshippers in the volatile Sinai Peninsula during Friday prayers, Egyptian officials said, killing at least 85 people in what appeared to be the latest attack by the area's Islamic State affiliate. Source
  • Former Liberal senator battling CRA over $350K tax bill

    Canada News CBC News
    The Canada Revenue Agency is taking a recently retired Liberal-appointed senator to court to force her to answer questions and turn over documents as part of a multi-year audit of her tax returns. The dispute centres on $1.35 million in business losses that Pana Merchant claimed but the CRA disallowed, and comes as the tax affairs of a number of prominent Liberals — including former senator Leo Kolber and the party's chief fundraiser, Stephen Bronfman — faced public scrutiny in recent…