30,000 migrants trapped in Greece - Italy is the possible alternative way

3 Μαρ 2016

IDOMENI, Greece-A clampdown along Balkan borders has left 30,000 migrants trapped in Greece, marking a new stage in the humanitarian crisis swamping Europe.

   Countries farther up the migration trail, from Macedonia to Austria, are now letting in only a few hundred a day, and sometimes no one.
   Allowing migrants to be stranded in Greece is considered the EU’s last option to halt the relentless inflow of people from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. More and more EU governments have lost faith in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of stopping irregular migrants at Turkey, spreading bona fide refugees around the EU, and keeping Europe’s internal borders open.
   Ms. Merkel warned this week of “chaos” in Greece, but other European Union leaders say there is no alternative to shutting down the Balkan migration route.
   Senior EU officials argue that a humanitarian crisis in Greece, ameliorated with EU money, would help deter further migrants from traveling to Europe. On Wednesday, the EU executive in Brussels said it could send Greece €300 million ($326 million) quickly, from a new €700 million emergency fund for the bloc.
   Greece is rapidly becoming a pressure cooker. Refugees and other migrants are growing frustrated and angry. Hundreds tried to storm the border with Macedonia on Monday, only to be driven back with tear gas. The presence of riot police and military vehicles is growing daily. Authorities are hastily building a network of camps around the country, hoping to spread the trapped migrants and avoid major unrest.
   At Idomeni alone, nearly 10,000 people were stranded by Wednesday at a camp built for 1,500. Most are sleeping in tents or in the open, in muddy fields next to the razor-wire border fence erected by Macedonia.
   Germany’s interior ministry said on Wednesday that arrivals in the country have fallen to a few hundred a day lately, compared with about 2,000 daily in February, and peaks of around 10,000 a day in September.
   On Wednesday Macedonia let only about 170 people pass through the fence, via a checkpoint where hundreds, mainly from Syria, wait after their papers have been verified.
   At night, the air near the border fence becomes suffocating as people burn garbage to stay warm. Many children can be heard coughing. Nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders says it has been treating many people suffering from the cold, and some with respiratory problems. Greece’s foreign minister Nikos Kotzias told Greek broadcaster Skai on Tuesday that the country can cope with up to 150,000 refugees. Some officials say privately they fear the number could rise much higher than that.
   Greece’s worry is that a huge number could be stuck here indefinitely. The EU’s plan for relocating refugees around the continent-championed by Ms. Merkel-is floundering for lack of takers. Fearing violence, Greek authorities are trying to reduce the crush at the border with Macedonia by putting up migrants further south, including in Athens and its port of Piraeus. Army bases, public parks, sports stadiums and other facilities are hastily being turned into refugee camps.
Πηγή: Wall Street Journal

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