Macedonia Closes Border to Illegal Migrants

A migrant, who is waiting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, reacts while being photographed at a makeshift camp near the village of Idomeni, Greece March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SKOPJE, March 9 – Macedonia has closed its border “completely” to illegal migrants after Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia announced tight new restrictions on migrant entry, a police official said on Wednesday.

Thousands of migrants have built up on the Greek side of the Macedonian border. Macedonia had been allowing small numbers of Syrians and Iraqis through but is now stopping doing so after its neighbours tightened up their policies.

“We have completely closed the border,” the police official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

According to the Macedonian Interior Ministry, no migrants entered from Greece on Tuesday.

“Macedonia will act according to the decisions taken by other countries on the Balkan route,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said, referring to the main routes taken by more than a million migrants to reach the European Union over the last year.

Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia said on Tuesday they would place new restrictions on the entry of migrants. The decisions were announced hours after EU leaders declared an end to a mass scramble to reach wealthy countries in Europe from war zones.

Around 1,000 migrants remain stranded in a refugee camp on the Macedonian side of the Serbian border while more than 400 are stranded in “No Man’s Land” between Serbia and Macedonia. They refuse to go back to Macedonia and are not being allowed to cross in to Serbia.

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