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'Open the borders': thousands call for end to Balkan route restrictions

'Open the borders': thousands call for end to Balkan route restrictions
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By Euronews with Reuters
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Thousands stranded on the Greek side of the border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia urge authorities to drop new daily migrant limits.

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Thousands of migrants, stranded on the Greek frontier with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), have staged an angry protest, calling for the borders on the Balkan route to be reopened.

A week after Austria decided to restrict access into the country to 3,200 people per day, Macedonian, Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian authorities unilaterally set new daily entry limits of 580.

Police say more than 5,000 people are stranded at the Idomeni camp, on the Greek side of the border.

Trapped and freezing at the Greece/Macedonia border https://t.co/ZGEIMOYlv0#RefugeesWelcomepic.twitter.com/wxFcp0Ya87

— Jim Murphy (@jimmurphySF) February 12, 2016

Tighter controls imposed by neighbouring FYROM mean Afghans are no longer allowed to enter, leaving them stuck in northern Greece, with few options.

Scene at Greece-Macedonia border at Idomeni as Afghans now prevented from proceeding. Chaos again. pic.twitter.com/6pdZ66weBK

— Peter Bouckaert (@bouckap) February 22, 2016

Stricter document checks on Syrians and Iraqis have slowed their passage north to little more than a trickle.

Nedal, a Syrian, is one of those stuck at the border. She made the journey from Damascus.

“We are three days here: rainy and cold and no food. People have spent all their money. We want just to pass, safely please,” she pleaded.

Ramadan, from Aleppo, added:

“We can not stay here (and) do nothing. Last night I sleep outside and no water. Much families I see sleep without tents, and they tell us today will come tents, and no tents, no tents for all.”

Voicing concern, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all countries to keep their borders open.

We are concerned by Balkan border closures - more from @refugeeschief in Greece yesterday https://t.co/ZJUGORAR5Rpic.twitter.com/ecP7RdhhR8

— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) February 24, 2016

"It will increase the burden on Greece" @refugeeschief on Balkans border closures yesterday https://t.co/lTFGrpRuEgpic.twitter.com/MdNQZPxn2M

— UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) February 24, 2016

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