Closure of 'Balkan route' traps refugees in Greece

'I believe that the EU one day will open a small window for us', one Syrian refugee says

Closure of 'Balkan route' traps refugees in Greece

World Bulletin / News Desk

The five-year war in Syria has killed nearly half a million people and displaced more than 10 million from their homes.

Now the ‘Balkan route’ to Western Europe is closed, nearly 15,000 people are stuck on the border between Macedonia and Greece.

Balkan countries have closed their borders to those without EU visas after president of the European Council, Donald Tusk said that the route was now “closed”.

The first decision came from Slovenia and then Croatia to not allow any passage to the vast majority of refugees and migrants.

Serbia also announced that it will harmonize its rules with border decisions by Slovenia and Croatia.

Meanwhile, in the northern Greek town of Idomeni, the number of refugees is increasing day by day and conditions are getting worse.

The UNHCR said that it is having difficulty providing essential services to over 10,000 migrants along Greece's border with Macedonia.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Babar Baloch, spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said EU countries should share the refugees equally among them. Otherwise, these people would be left in the hands of human traffickers, he warned.

- ‘They are not tourists’ - 

Speaking about Slovenia's decision to require EU visa for the border passage, Baloch said that, those trying to enter the country were “not tourists”.

"We should understand that these people are not tourists. The EU should take responsibility on this in accordance with international law," said Baloch.

Meanwhile, one Syrian refugee in Idomeni told Anadolu Agency that no matter what decision the EU takes, he would wait at the border until they opened it.

"Here in the mud, in the dirt, I will continue to wait. I believe that the EU one day will open a small window for us and allow us to continue on our way," said the man, who gave his name only as Abdullah.

Hungary, which was the first EU country to build a border, has extended its state of emergency in the country's south-east.

It gives police extra powers and allowed parliament to deploy troops to deal with the mass of people waiting on Hungary's frontier with Serbia.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria is ready to dispatch troops to its border with Greece.

Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said that they are ready to send 1,000 troops to the border in a few hours.

Syria’s five-year civil war has left at least 250,000 dead and more than 11 million displaced from their homes, according to the UN.

Turkey hosts around 2.7 million Syrian refugees, and has spent more than $10 billion on sheltering them, according to Turkish officials.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Mart 2016, 16:02