Austria to support Macedonia in shutting borders to refugees

Austrian government to give technical support to Macedonian government on halting refugee influx and keeping refugees at borders

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner and Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil (2ndR) walk down a road next to a makeshift refugee camp at the border between Slovenia and Austria in Spielfeld, Austria, February 16, 2016.

Berlin based newspaper Die Welt reported on Wednesday that Austria will supply equipment to help Macedonia keep its border closed and Europe’s main refugee route blocked.

Central Balkan country Macedonia closed it's border with Greece last week to stem the flow of refugees.

About 1,500 refugees trying to cross the border were forced back to Greece by Macedonian troops, where about 12,000 refugees have been stranded.

"Austria has offered support to Macedonia," Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told the newspaper.

"The Defence Ministry is currently checking whether we can help with technical gear, such as night vision goggles."

Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has expressed gratitude to the Macedonian government for its conduct in terms of tackling the refugee crisis.

"So far, Macedonia has contributed much more for Europe's stability than certain European Union member states," she said.

The Balkan route is the main route of refugees trying to reach wealthier European countries. Mikl-Leitner said that the borders had "to be kept closed at all cost."

A Syrian refugee covers himself with a blanket at a makeshift camp for refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, Greece, March 15, 2016 / Photo by Reuters.

According to an International Organisation of Migration (IOM) report that was published on March 11, 146,652 refugee arrived to Europe by sea in 2016 and 455 were found dead or went missing in 2016.

The IOM also stated that 1,011,712 refugees arrived in Europe in 2015.

TRTWorld and agencies