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Balkan route : Macedonia close borders for migrant transits

By Tajuddin
In WORLD NEWS
Mar 9th, 2016
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Macedonian Army engineers build a fence on the border line between Macedonia and Greece

Macedonian Army engineers build a fence on the border line between Macedonia and Greece

Skopje, Macedonia (Xinhua + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The border between Macedonia and Greece has been completely closed for any transit of migrants since morning Wednesday.

The new rules affect the migrants that are already traveling along the Balkan route, trying to pass through the Balkans and reach Western Europe.

According to the Macedonian Ministry of Interior, no new migrants have entered in the last hours from Greece in the transition center in Gevgelija in Macedonian territory. But in total over 30,000 migrants remain stranded on the Macedonian and Greek border.

The situation is difficult on the border between Macedonia and Serbia as well. Almost 500 migrants are stuck in between the borders, sleeping out in the open on a rainy weather, without basic sanitary conditions.

The food supplies are sufficient, but the conditions for the migrants are very difficult, warns the Office of the UNHCR in Skopje.

“The weather is cold and rainy, there are children among them. They are all wet and sick, in need for medications for asthma treatment. This situation is unbearable from a humanitarian point of view – the refugees are not accepted both in Macedonia and in Serbia”, Ljubinka Brashnarska, spokesperson for the UNHCR Office in Skopje said.

Although the authorities in some European countries such as Slovenia expressed their satisfaction with the closing of the migrant route, experts warn that this might not completely stop the pressure on the Balkan countries from the migrants trying to reach Europe.

“Some of them might decide to return on their own, some of them will be turned back by the Greek police and they will be returned to Turkey. But still there is a number that will continue to push and try to move forward towards Europe, with no intention to turn back since they got here,” Trpe Stojanovski, professor at the Faculty for Security in Skopje told Xinhua.

He added that in spite of the rules, migrants often still manage to use illegal routes and move through the Balkans.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki agreed that it is too early to expect that the Balkan route will cease to exist completely at once, because the illegal transits still remain.

“On the other hand, there are some positive signals that other countries along this route will take additional measures to control the illegal transit efforts, which will also reduce the pressure on Macedonian-Greek border in the long run. In terms of our policy, a humane treatment of all refugees and migrants, as well as securing a safe transit through Macedonian territory from one EU country to other EU countries, will remain our priorities,” Poposki stated in an interview for the Macedonian TV channel Sitel.

Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the country will coordinate its approach towards the migrant wave with the general policy of the European Union, meaning that the number of migrants allowed to enter Macedonian territory will be equal to the number of migrants who are allowed to continue their journey to other countries along the Balkan route.

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