Greece: 70,000 migrants could be stranded next month due to border closures

Published February 28th, 2016 - 10:25 GMT
Syrian and Iraqi refugees wait to cross the border into Macedonia near the village of Idomeni on February 27, 2016. (AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)
Syrian and Iraqi refugees wait to cross the border into Macedonia near the village of Idomeni on February 27, 2016. (AFP/Louisa Gouliamaki)

Greece's Migration Minister warned on Sunday that the numbers of refugees and migrants on Greek soil could triple by next month, meaning up to 70,000 people could be stranded at closed borders to Balkan countries, AFP reported.

"We estimate that in our country the number of those trapped will be from 50,000-70,000 people next month", Yiannis Mouzalas, the Migration Minister, said in an interview with Mega Channel TV. "Today, there are 22,000 refugees and migrants."

Macedonian border officials restricted the border crossing to allow in only 300 refugees and migrants on Saturday, leaving some 6,500 people stuck at the Idomeni camp on the Greek side of the border.

The bottleneck at the 1,500-person capacity camp, which began last week after tighter border controls were implemented, is expected to get worse after Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia impose similar limits.

The border restrictions come on the heels of measures enacted by Austria, which introduced a daily limit of 80 asylum-seekers, and only permit 3,200 migrants to pass through the country en route to Germany and Scandinavia.

Thousands have been arriving en masse from neighboring Turkey in hopes of making it through the migrant trail before more borders close, as the continent grapples with the worst refugee crisis since World War II.


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