Afghan Migrants Stranded by Macedonia Closure

Afghan Migrants Stranded by Macedonia ClosureAfghan Migrants Stranded by Macedonia Closure

Thousands of migrants and refugees have been stranded near Athens and on Greece’s northern border after Macedonia stopped allowing Afghans in. Some 5,000 people were stuck on the border and another 4,000 arrived at Piraeus port, as Macedonia said only Syrians and Iraqis would be let in.

Greece has protested at the decision, but Macedonia said Afghans were not being let in by other countries, BBC reported.

Last week Austria imposed a daily limit of 80 asylum claims.

Although EU officials said the Austrian decision was incompatible with human rights conventions, Balkan states along the migrant route from Greece have responded by implementing their own restrictions.

In the past year, the vast majority of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe have taken the route through Greece, in the hope of claiming asylum in Germany or other EU countries. More than 1.1 million people arrived in Germany alone in 2015.

After Syrians, Afghans made up the second largest number of people seeking asylum in the EU in 2015, according to official figures. Last November, Slovenia and other Balkan countries announced they would only allow in refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where armed conflicts were taking place.

Macedonia said it was now halting access to Afghans as well, because Serbia had itself imposed restrictions, although that was disputed by the Belgrade government.