Macedonia imposes new restrictions on flow of refugees

IDOMENI, Greece -- Macedonian authorities imposed further restrictions Sunday on refugees trying to cross the border from Greece, allowing only those from cities they consider to be at war to enter, Greek police officials said.

See Full Article

The officials said the restrictions mean people from cities such as Aleppo in Syria, for example, can enter Macedonia at the Idomeni border crossing, but those from the Syrian capital of Damascus or the Iraqi capital of Baghdad are being stopped.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak on the record.

The restrictions were the latest move by Macedonia to slow the flow of refugees into the country, and come a day ahead of a summit between the European Union and Turkey to discuss the crisis.

The rate at which refugees are being allowed to cross had already been reduced to a trickle, with sometimes only a few dozen, or even nobody, being allowed to cross. Greek police said 240 people crossed between 6 a.m. Saturday and the same time Sunday morning.

Nearly all refugees and other migrants who enter the EU have been doing so by taking small inflatable dinghies from the Turkish coast to the nearby Greek islands. With thousands of kilometres of coastline, Greece says it cannot staunch the flow unless Turkey stops the boats from leaving its shores.

Athens has also criticized Europe for not sticking to agreements to take in refugees in a relocation scheme that never really got off the ground.

"While Idomeni is closed for refugees and the flows from the islands, from the Turkish shores to the islands, remain, it must be perfectly clear that the immediate start of a reliable process of relocation of refugees from our country to other countries of the European Union is a matter of complete urgency," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Sunday during a speech to his party.

"And this is exactly what we will seek in the summit on Monday. Not just the wording that this is urgent, but that it will begin immediately and with a large number," Tsipras said.

While thousands arrive in Greece's main port of Piraeus from the islands, about 13,000-14,000 people remain stranded in Idomeni, with more arriving each day. The refugee camp has overflowed, with thousands pitching tents among the railway tracks and in adjacent fields.

The camp is beginning to take on a form of semi-permanence, with people realizing they will be spending at the very least several days in the fields. As morning broke, women swept the earth outside their tents with makeshift brooms made of twigs and leaves. Men stomped on branches pulled off trees nearby to use as firewood for small campfires to boil tea and cook.

Throughout Sunday morning, dozens of local Greeks arrived in cars packed with clothes and food donations to distribute to the refugees. Many were mobbed as they arrived at the first tents, with men, women and children scrambling to receive whatever handouts they could.

The sheer numbers have overwhelmed Greek authorities. Massive queues of hundreds of people form from early in the morning, with people waiting for hours for a lunch-time sandwich.

While Greek officials have tried to discourage more people from arriving, and no longer allow buses to drive to the Idomeni border, hundreds continue to arrive each day, walking more than 15 kilometres (10 miles) from a nearby gas station where the United Nations refugee agency has set up large tents.

"We have been here five days, or six. Who remembers the days anymore," said Narjes al Shalaby, 27, from Damascus in Syria, travelling with her mother and two daughters, 5-year-old Maria and 10-year-old Bara'a. Her husband and third daughter are already in Germany.

"All we do here is sleep, wake up, sleep. We get hungry, we wait in the queue for two hours for a sandwich, we come back, we sleep some more," said Narjes, who worries about her daughters.

"She's grown up sooner that she should have," she says of Maria, who is sleeping in the back of the family's small tent. "She's aged."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • B.C. leaders set for televised debate

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Leaders of British Columbia's political parties will enter living rooms across the province tonight as they take part in a televised debate. Liberal Leader Christy Clark says the event will give her a chance to talk directly to voters about the choices they face come election day on May 9. Source
  • N.B. touts gender parity as five women appointed to provincial court

    Canada News CTV News
    FREDERICTON -- New Brunswick has appointed five woman judges, bringing gender parity to the provincial court, and named the first female chief judge. Premier Brian Gallant said Judge Jolene Richard will be promoted to chief judge of the provincial court. Source
  • South Korea presidential front-runners agree gays shouldn't be in military

    World News CBC News
    South Korean presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in has outraged persecuted sexual minority groups by saying during a television debate that he opposes homosexuality, something his supporters say he had to do to win office in the deeply conservative country. Source
  • Calgary couple accused of abusing nieces and nephew to learn fate in June

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY -- A couple accused of abusing their two nieces and a nephew with implements that included wooden spoons, needles and barbecue forks are to learn their fate in June. The children's parents were killed in a car crash in the United States in 2006 and the kids, who were all under 10, were adopted by their maternal aunt and uncle, who moved them to Calgary. Source
  • U.S. softwood tariffs prompt NDP claim of "inaction" against Christy Clark

    Canada News CTV News
    BURNABY, B.C. - British Columbia NDP Leader John Horgan is accusing Liberal Leader Christy Clark of delay and inaction in the wake of American demands for duties on Canadian softwood. Horgan issued a news release saying he is disappointed by the United States government's decision to level an average 20 per cent duty on Canadian softwood, effective May 1. Source
  • Halifax council votes to put Cornwallis name on city property under microscope

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- In a move Halifax's mayor calls a step toward reconciliation with indigenous people in the municipality, regional council has voted to examine the use of Edward Cornwallis's name on city property. Mayor Mike Savage says council's decision Tuesday stands by a pledge it made in 2015 to develop a strong working relationship with the city's aboriginal residents based on truth, dignity and mutual respect. Source
  • Alberta needs new operations centre to manage disasters: minister

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta is looking at building a new operations centre to better manage how it responds to disasters such as the Fort McMurray wildfire. Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said the need for a larger and more modern nerve centre is one of the lessons learned from the fire last May that forced more than 80,000 people to flee the area and destroyed 2,400 homes and buildings. Source
  • White House lack of transparency in Michael Flynn investigation blasted

    World News CBC News
    President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared to violate federal law when he failed to seek permission or inform the U.S. government about accepting tens of thousands of dollars from Russian organizations after a trip there in 2015, leaders of a House oversight committee said Tuesday. Source
  • Police nab suspects in Paraguay robbery involving tens of millions

    World News CBC News
    Twelve men suspected of taking part in a dramatic, multimillion-dollar theft from an armoured car company in a Paraguayan border city have been arrested in Brazil, officials in the Brazilian Federal Police said Tuesday. The men are thought to be among roughly 50 men who used explosives to blast into the vault of the Prosegur company in Ciudad del Este, then escaped into Brazil, Federal Police Inspector Fabiano Bordignon said. Source
  • LCBO workers vote overwhelmingly in favour of a strike

    Canada News CBC News
    Liquor Control Board of Ontario staff have voted 93 per cent in favour of a strike as their union continues to bargain for a new collective agreement. Voting by members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union was held Monday and Tuesday. Source