Greece has been urged to declare a state of emergency on its border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where some 12,000 migrants and refugees are stuck, unable to continue their journey.
With authorities only allowing a handful through, the governor of Greece’s Central Macedonia region wants action.
“The Former Yugoslav Republic needs to open the borders immediately and the European Union needs to implement severe actions against the countries that are closing their borders today,” said the governor, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who has asked for the state of emergency to be declared.
Travelling with his two daughters, it has been a long and dangerous road to the border for Taher from war-torn Syria – one of some 35,000 migrants and refugees currently stranded in Greece.
He is hoping to reunite his family as his wife and son are already in Sweden.
“We managed to cross over with great difficulty and harsh conditions,” Taher said.
“We were mugged and robbed on the road and lost everything. Even our passports are gone.”
Austria and countries along the Balkans migration route have imposed restrictions on their borders, limiting the numbers able to cross and leading to the backlog in Greece.
“So this is Europe?” Taher said.
“Very good. Had I known I would not have moved an inch.”
Asked if he is thinking of returning to Syria, Taher said: “No, I am thinking of committing suicide.”
While the EU and Turkey seek a consensus at an emergency summit on Monday on how to stem the influx of migrants, Greece looks set to remain Europe’s waiting room for months to come.
The UNHCR, the UN’s Refugee Agency, has warned that Europe is running out of time to solve the crisis.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has set out a detailed six-point plan “to manage and stabilise the refugee situation”.