Thousands of stranded refugees stage protest at Greece-Macedonia border
Hundreds of migrants trapped at a refugee camp along Greece’s border with Macedonia staged protests for a second day, temporarily shutting down a rail line for several hours on Sunday.
Roughly 300 migrants are stuck along the border crossing waiting to enter Macedonia, which in recent days has installed stricter border restrictions against migrants. The protest forced a cargo train to turn back.
Many of the protesters are from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, while more than 6,500 refugees are living in a tented camp nearby and thousands more spread across Greece.
Macedonia on Saturday allowed 300 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the country, but has limited the number allowed across the border overall in an attempt to slow the migration of refugees with more than 1 million entering Europe in 2015 alone.
Macedonia’s decision follows similar efforts in Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to restrict the flow of refugees. Hungary has taken its restrictions a step further, constructing a miles-long fence along the Serbian and Croatian border with plans to construct additional obstructions along its border with Romania, the Associated Press reported.
“We will protect ourselves all the way from Slovania to Ukraine,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday to the AP, also blaming Germany’s liberal migration policy as the cause of the once heavily trafficked route through Hungary.
With the new border policies, tens of thousands of refugees, mostly from Syria are now creating a bottleneck along the Greek border.
“We estimate that in our country the number of those trapped will be from 50,000-70,000 people next month,” said Greek Migration Minister Yiannis Mouzalas.
On Friday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lodged his own complaints against the Balkan countries, and others, for installing border restrictions that violate the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
“The Secretary-General notes that the number of asylum seekers entering Greece from Turkey continues unabated, and that the border closures are creating a difficult situation in Greece,” Ban’s spokesperson wrote in a statement. “He calls on all countries to keep their borders open, and to act in a spirit of responsibility sharing and solidarity, including through expanding legal pathways to access asylum.”