Balkan borders tighten, Greek islands to hold migrants

ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's government on Friday ordered authorities on islands near Turkey to restrict the number of migrants allowed to travel by ferry to the mainland, where thousands of people are stranded in increasingly desperate conditions following border closures in the countries to the north.

See Full Article

Ferry companies and regional authorities were handed the instructions as the number of people stranded in Greece continues to rise, with thousands sleeping rough in parks and along the country's highways, and existing shelters filled to capacity.

In Athens, migrants staged peaceful protests, briefly blocking traffic at the country's main port in nearby Piraeus, while hundreds walked out of a transit camp and were heading by tram and on foot to join others at the port.

Merchant Marine Minister Theodoros Dritsas said up to two thirds of migrants arriving on Lesbos and other Greek islands would be held there until Sunday.

"The reason is that we need more time to prepare additional sites for temporary shelters," Dritsas said.

He said three chartered ferries would be used on islands to provide temporary shelter over the next three days.

About 2,000 people -- more than half from Syria and Iraq -- are arriving daily from Turkey using dinghies and small boats, but the number of people crossing into neighbouring Macedonia has dropped dramatically in the past week, and was down to just 150 on Thursday, according to Greek police figures.

By early afternoon Friday, not a single migrant had crossed into Macedonia, while some 4,500 people waited at a border camp and a nearby site, according to Greek police.

In Serbia, police said they been formally notified by Croatia and Slovenia that only 500 people per day would be accepted to cross the border northward.

Athens is blaming Austria -- a fellow member of Europe's passport-free Schengen Area -- the for the flare-up in the crisis after it imposed strict transit restrictions last week, controls that were also implemented by Balkan countries further back on the route.

Greece recalled its ambassador to Austria Thursday and rejected a request to visit Athens by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, government officials said.

Athens says it is unable to stop migrants crossing its sea borders without endangering their lives.

"The policies of Austria and Hungary are turning Greece into a giant refugee camp," deputy Education Minister Sia Anagnostoipoulou told state-run ERT television.

"What are we supposed to do: Let people drown in the Aegean Sea?" she said. "Instead of making a plan. Europe is burying its head in the sand ... Europe is unraveling."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'Total victory is near': Iraqi forces recapture last ISIS-held town

    World News CBC News
    Iraqi forces on Friday captured the border town of Rawa, the last remaining town under ISIS control, signalling the collapse of the group's self-proclaimed caliphate. Rawa's capture marks the end of the extremist group's era of territorial rule over a so-called caliphate that it proclaimed in 2014 across vast swaths of Iraq and Syria. Source
  • Strong earthquake jolts southwest China; no word on damage

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING - A strong earthquake has shaken China's Tibet region but there's no immediate word on damage or casualties. The U.S. Geological Survey says the 6.3 magnitude quake hit at a depth of about 10 kilometres about 58 kilometres northeast of Nyingchi. Source
  • Lebanon's outgoing PM Hariri heads for France, asserts his freedom

    World News CBC News
    Lebanon's outgoing prime minister Saad al-Hariri said Friday he is on his way to the airport in Saudi Arabia. Hariri, who sparked a crisis by resigning on Nov. 4 during a visit to Saudi Arabia, tweeted, "To say that I am held up in Saudi Arabia and not allowed to leave the country is a lie. Source
  • Lebanon PM says he is leaving Saudi Arabia, heads to airport

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said early Saturday that he was heading to the airport in Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to leave for France, two weeks after declaring his resignation from the kingdom and sparking speculation that he was forced to do so. Source
  • Ex-Laval mayor who was sentenced to six years for corruption gets day parole

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The former mayor of Quebec's third-largest city who was sentenced to six years in prison last December after pleading guilty to conspiracy, fraud and breach of trust has been granted day parole. A Parole Board of Canada document dated Nov. Source
  • Longtime Inuit politician Paul Quassa chosen as new premier of Nunavut

    Canada News CTV News
    IQALUIT, Nunavut -- A longtime Inuit politician has been chosen as the fourth premier of Nunavut. "I am out of words," was Paul Quassa's first statement after spending Friday answering questions from his fellow members of the legislature as to why they should vote for him. Source
  • New National Holocaust Monument to stay open year-round

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The newly opened National Holocaust Monument won't be closed for the winter after all. Heritage Minister Melanie Joly says in a tweet that the soaring concrete structure just west of Parliament Hill will remain open throughout the year. Source
  • Candidate for Ohio governor details his sexual past with '50 very attractive females'

    World News CTV News
    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A state Supreme Court justice running for Ohio governor volunteered candid details of his sexual past on Facebook, saying Friday that he was taking a swipe at the "media frenzy" over sexual misconduct. Source
  • UN to vote on 30-day extension of expert body on Syria

    World News CTV News
    The UN Security Council has scheduled a vote Friday evening on a resolution that would extend for 30 days the mandate of the expert body charged with determining responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Source
  • Police allege Toronto man, 32, placed online ad seeking sex with young girls

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Police say a 32-year-old Toronto man is facing charges in a child luring investigation. Investigators allege the accused posted an online classified ad, using the email address mikailusmaximus?åògmail.com, looking to have sex with young girls. Source