Macedonia halts refugees at Greek border

Macedonia closes border with Greece towards refugees, blocking their entrance at Greek-Macedonian border

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Refugees walk through in Serbia after entering the border from Macedonia.

Updated Jan 21, 2016

Macedonia has announced the closing of its border with Greece towards refugees, police in Skopje said on Wednesday, blocking the path of hundreds of asylum seekers attempting to reach northern Europe.

"The border is closed," a senior Macedonian police official told AFP, while a police spokesman in northern Greece said it had been closed since Tuesday evening, leaving approximately 600 refugees stranded at the frontier.

The Macedonian official described the move as "temporary" and said that problems with Slovenian trains had disrupted the movement of refugees.

"Macedonia temporarily closed the border upon the request received from Slovenia. The reason is a defect on the railroad [in Slovenia] and migrants trying to enter Macedonia could not continue their journey," the official said.

However, the Slovenian rail company Slovenske Zeleznice (SZ) insisted that their trains were running as normal.

Meanwhile, both Serbia and Croatia have announced that they would only allow refugees to pass through if they were specifically seeking asylum in Austria or Germany.

The move comes after Austria, last week, signalled that it would follow neighbouring Germany's lead and refuse new arrivals seeking to claim asylum in Scandinavia, after Sweden and Denmark tightened their borders.

On Tuesday, Hungary's foreign minister said the country is ready to build a fence on its border with Romania incase asylum-seekers change their way and stop using the Croatia route.

"We are ready, we have made the necessary preparatory works already on the Romanian-Hungarian border, if we have to build a fence there we are ready from the next day," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said, adding that it could be made within days.

In November, The Macedonian Army had also begun setting up a metal fence throughout on its Greek border to keep track of the ongoing refugee influx into Europe.

TRTWorld and agencies