More migrants trapped in Greece as Balkan countries enforce limits

27 February 2016
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The European Commission said Friday that it is putting together a humanitarian aid plan for Greece as Balkan countries placed further restrictions on the numbers of refugees and migrants that could cross their territories.

As of last night, authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) had not allowed any refugees to pass from Greece. Earlier, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia said they would each restrict the number of migrants allowed to enter their territories to 580 per day.

The clampdown comes in the wake of Austria last week introducing a daily cap of 80 asylum seekers and saying it would only let 3,200 migrants pass through each day.

As border restrictions north of Greece have been stepped up, the number of migrants and refugees stuck in the country has increased. The government is attempting to stem the flow of migrants to mainland Greece by asking ferry companies to delay crossings from the Aegean islands, but between 2,000 and 3,000 people are arriving in Greece each day. It is estimated that there are currently 20,000 to 25,000 in the country. Some of them are out in the open, having chosen not to remain in transit centers or other temporary shelters provided by Greek authorities.

Several thousand have reached the village of Idomeni at the border with FYROM, where conditions were said to be deteriorating last night as a result of bad weather.

The government launched a hotline (210.38.22.077) for people or companies who want to donate items that are in need at the moment, such as non-perishable food, sneakers, towels and plastic cutlery.

European Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud admitted Friday that due to the changing situation in Greece, Brussels is putting together an “emergency plan” to avert a humanitarian crisis in Greece.

Speaking at an economic forum in Delphi yesterday, Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos warned that the upcoming summit between EU members and Turkey on March 7 would be crucial to addressing the growing crisis.

“If there is no convergence and agreement on March 7, we will be led to disaster,” the former Greek minister said.

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