The Balkan refugee route is closed

EPA/Zoltan Balogh HUNGARY OUT

The Balkan route to Europe is closed for refugees. Slovenia announced on Tuesday that refugees without a valid Schengen visa will not be allowed passage; Croatia followed and Serbia said this "practically closes the Balkan route." The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria will not let migrants through without visas either. The domino effect was swift and it is now an open ended question whether Greece will become “a storage of souls” as its Prime Minister had promised it will not. There are now over 13,000 refugees on the borders with FYROM, which Skopje says is intended by Athens to add diplomatic pressure. The Greek press describes appalling conditions in the camp in Idomeni at the border, where a sizable tent city that dwarfs the jungle in Calais by four has been established in less than a month. Given the French resounding failure, it is hard to accuse Greece of failing to set up a state of the art infrastructure within days. According to sources across Greece, there are now 34,000 newly arrived refugees in Greece. The message to Greece is to turn the migrants around to Turkey, as agreed in Brussels. In principle, Turkey agreed to accept Syrian and other migrants from Greek islands in exchange for the EU countries taking Syrians directly from Turkey. Bill Frelick, refugee rights director at Human Rights Watch expressed his concern as the EU and Turkey “failed to say how individual needs for international protection would be fairly assessed during the rapid-fire mass expulsions they agreed would take place.” (DW, Balkan Insight, Kathimerini)

Greece is for the moment “a storage” of 34,000 souls, and counting


The Balkan route to Europe is closed for refugees. Whether the EU-turkey deal is effective will be tested in the next few hours.

Slovenia announced on Tuesday evening that refugees without a valid Schengen visa will not be allowed passage; Croatia followed and Serbia said this "practically closes the Balkan route." The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bulgaria will not let migrants through without visas either.

The domino effect was swift and it is now an open ended questi...


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