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Amid border closures, Athens attempts to stop flow of migrants from its islands

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By Seamus Kearney
Amid border closures, Athens attempts to stop flow of migrants from its islands

Some 25,000 refugees and migrants are now thought to be stranded in Greece, with the closure of borders along the route that migrants take through the Balkans to get to Europe.

Because of the backlog, Athens has started trying to reduce the flow of migrants from its islands to the mainland.

For hundreds of migrants in numerous locations, they can only wait.

One man told euronews: “We should wait until they open the border and Europe should decide to do something for us … if they don’t, we will not back, we should stay here, we will die here.”

For local Greeks, it is difficult; many want to be sympathetic and human, but what they are seeing is too much to deal with.

Athens resident Charalambos Grapsas told euronews: “For many years, I come here and drink my coffee. I can not do that anymore. I’m really annoyed.

“Someone cries, another one is starving. These people are so miserable. What can you do?”

Another resident, Soultanaki Mirsini, said: “They come and come and come. Where they will go? We have become foreigners in our own country. That’s the truth.

“The Greeks abandon their country and become immigrants. Look around you, all the shops have closed. Foreigners have reopened them. We leave and they come and live in Athens, in Greece.”

An untold number of children are caught up in the crisis, and there’s now diplomatic tension between Greece and Austria over the border limits.

Euronews correspondent in Athens, Apostolos Staikos, reported:
“The closing of the Macedonian border has not discouraged thousands of refugees who continue to arrive at the port of Piraeus.

“Greece is afraid that it’s slowly turning into a camp of lost souls. Hopes for a solution now rest on the crucial EU summit on the 7th of March.”