Macedonia shuts border with Greece to refugees


 Greek authorities say neighboring Macedonia has again stopped letting in refugees heading north from Greece to wealthier European countries, leaving hundreds stranded on the border. There was no official explanation for the move late Friday, and Macedonian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

About 750 people are on the Greek side of the border near the village of Idomeni, waiting for the crossing to reopen. While about 200 are in a heated shelter, the rest are in buses parked near the border.

Macedonia briefly closed the border to refugees earlier Friday but soon re-opened it. The country is only letting in people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, whom it considers refugees. It rejects all others as economic migrants.

The border was also closed for two days earlier this week.

A migrant who came to Sweden last year and was labeled a terror suspect by police has demanded 1 million kronor ($116,420) in damages from the Swedish state.

Moder Mothama Magid was arrested Nov. 20 at a refugee center in a remote village in Arctic Sweden following a nationwide manhunt days after the Paris attacks, which caused tensions throughout Europe. Shortly after, he was freed and is no longer suspected of any crime.

Lawyer Peter Ataseven told local media his 22-year-old client had sought compensation because he had been “suspected of a particularly serious crime” and had been portrayed in media as a terrorist. Ataseven could not immediately be reached for further comments.

In November, Sweden raised its terror alert, saying it was looking for a suspected terrorist. No explanation was ever provided.

Slovenian authorities say they have sent back to Croatia 15 migrants who weren’t going to seek asylum in the Alpine country or in Austria or Germany.

Police said Friday the group was rejected according to new rules applied this week along the so-called Balkan corridor for migrants from the Middle East and Africa who wish to reach Europe.

Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia have said they are imposing the new limitations after the Austrian government said it would do the same. Austria is seeking to cap the number of migrants coming into the country.

More than 1 million people have entered Europe last year in the biggest migration to the continent since World War II. They mostly went to Germany and other wealthy EU nations.

Greece’s coast guard says one more body has been recovered Friday from the sinking of a wooden smuggling boat off the island of Farmakonissi in the Aegean Sea, bringing the death toll in that sinking to eight.

In all, at least 42 people have drowned in two separate smuggling boat sinkings Friday, one in Farmakonissi and one off the coast of Kalolimnos to the south, where at least 34 bodies were recovered.

Greece is the main entry point for hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety or a better life in Europe.

Greece’s coast guard says 34 people have drowned when a wooden sailing boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of the small islet of Kalolimnos.

The coast guard said Friday it had recovered the bodies of 16 women, 11 children and seven men, while at least 26 people had been rescued. It was unclear how many people had originally been on the boat. Coast guard vessels, a helicopter and private boats are still searching the area.

The sinking came hours after seven people — six children and one woman — drowned when another boat carrying 48 people sank off the island of Farmakonissi to the north.

Greece is the main entry point for hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety or a better life in Europe.

Norwegian police have halted deportations of asylum-seekers to Russia via a border crossing in the Arctic for the second consecutive day, citing a lack of buses in Norway.

Police spokesman Daniel Drageset says 82 people have, however, been formally arrested inside a camp for refuges facing deportation in Kirkenes, a Norwegian town close to the Russian border, for fear they might flee.

Drageset said Friday about 30 people saw their deportation suspended Thursday “because of lack of staff on the Russian side of the border.”

Norway plans to return many of the 5,500 people who rode on bicycles across the Storskog crossing that is closed to pedestrians. Some of the migrants had permits to stay in Russia where they had been living for years and did not qualify for asylum.

Hungary’s prime minister has praised Austria for setting a cap on the number of migrants it will take in, saying “common sense has prevailed.”

Viktor Orban said Friday on state radio that the Austrian decision to accept 37,500 refugees this year and a total of 127,500 through 2019 was “the most important news of the past months” and showed that “Europe can’t take in huge masses of foreign people in an unlimited, uncontrolled manner.”

Orban, who last year built fences on the borders with Serbia and Croatia to stop the migrant flow, said that for Hungary “the best migrant is the migrant who does not come. The best number is zero.”

Orban also said that Hungary had exported hundreds of kilometers of its razor wire fence — many of its elements built by convicts in workshops — to Macedonia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

Greece’s coast guard says at least 21 people have died in two separate sinkings of boats smuggling migrants off two Greek islands overnight. Dozens have survived, and a search and rescue operation is underway for more potential survivors.

The coast guard says a wooden boat carrying 48 people sank in the early hours of Friday off the small island of Farmakonissi in the eastern Aegean. Forty of the passengers managed to make it to shore, while authorities rescued one girl and recovered seven bodies from the sea.

In a separate incident, a wooden sailboat carrying an undetermined number of people sank off the island of Kalolimnos.

The coast guard rescued 26 people and recovered 14 bodies. Coast guard vessels, a helicopter and private boats are searching for survivors.

Categories: Europe

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.