Macedonia Also Moves to Close Western Balkan Route to Migrants

Southeast Europe | March 9, 2016, Wednesday // 15:06|  views

Macedonian policemen closes a gate after a train passed near the refugee camp of Idomeni, at the Greek border with Macedonia, in Gevgelia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 08 March 2016. Photo: EPA

Macedonia has also moved to close its borders to migrants traveling on the so-called Western Balkan route.

No new arrival of asylum-seekers in the Gevgelija refugee transit centre has been registered for more than fifty hours, which means that this section of the Western Balkan route has been practically closed.

The town of Gevgelija is close to the border with Greece and the Idomeni checkpoint where thousands of migrants have been stranded for weeks as they have not been allowed to pass into Macedonia.

Also on Wednesday, the Macedonian interior ministry announced that in the past 24 hours it has not issued certificates to foreigners intending to seek asylum.

Since the beginning of the year, Macedonia has issued a total of 89 623 certificates of people intending to seek asylum .

During the same period, only 29 migrants have applied for asylum in the country, the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) informs.

This development comes after Croatia and Slovenia had announced on Tuesday the introduction of border restrictions aimed at closing the Western Balkan route.

As of midnight, Croatia and Slovenia are only allowing people with valid visas and passports to enter their countries.

Serbia followed suit by introducing reciprocal measures on its borders with Bulgaria and Macedonia.

These measures are expected to stem the migrant flow and prevent the estimated 35 000 migrants in Greece from continuing their onward journey along the route.

Bulgaria and Albania have announced heightened patrols on their borders as precautionary measures in the event of the migrant route shifting to these countries.

The closure of the Western Balkan route follows the agreement in principle reached between the EU and Turkey on Monday to curb the migrant flow.

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Tags: macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, greece, Bulgaria, Albania, turkey, EU, migrant, border, western Balkan, migrants, Gevgelija, Idomeni, checkpoint, asylum-seekers, refugee, Asylum


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