This week, countries along the Balkan route, a commonly used migration route for refugees and migrants to get to northern Europe, have closed their borders. This began with Austria’s announcement that they would be limiting the amount of migrants crossing their border. Followed by Slovenia who on Tuesday announced that they would solely allow migrants who planned to seek asylum there or those with urgent humanitarian needs to enter their country. Shortly after, Serbia and Croatia also declared similar restrictions while Macedonia has shut its’ border completely. This has left approximately 14,000 in squalid conditions in a tent camp along the Idomeni crossing between Greece and Macedonia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that this closure is not going to resolve the issue at all. She stated that while Austria’s decision along with those made by the Balkan countries will bring Germany fewer refugees, it will “put Greece in a very difficult situation.” She went on to say “If we do not manage to reach a deal with Turkey, the Greece cannot bear the weight for long.”
The EU and Turkey are in the midst of negotiating a deal that would return all new irregular migrants arriving to Greece without documents to Turkey. Many rights groups however believe that this proposal is illegal and unethical. This plan also wouldn’t ameliorate the situation that thousands of refugees are expected to keep arriving every week on Greek soil. This could lead to the possibility of an immense humanitarian calamity since Greece is struggling to care for them all in its current economic state. Much still depends on the outcome of the Turkey – EU negotations which are ongoing.
More details of the proposals and the border closures: