Monday, March 21, 2016

Over 50,000 Refugees Stuck in Greece Amid West Balkan Route Closure

A migrant shouts slogans as he is blocking the railway track at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomenii, Greece March 12, 2016.

© REUTERS/ Stoyan Nenov
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More than 50,400 refugees are stranded in Greece, as of early Monday, just weeks after Western Balkan states sealed their borders in a bid to stop the flow of migrants into Europe, a Greek migrant crisis coordination center said in a statement.

ATHENS (Sputnik) According to the statement, 1,662 people have arrived on the Greek coasts from Turkey since Sunday. Almost 700 of them reportedly arrived on the islands of Lesbos and Chios. Europe has been beset by a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants fleeing their home countries in the Middle East and North Africa to escape violence and poverty. Many of them have been taking the Western Balkan route, which crosses Greece, using the county as an entry point into the bloc from which they travel to wealthier EU states where they intend to apply for asylum.

Last month, Macedonia closed its border with Greece to incoming migrants after other countries along the Balkan migration route closed their borders, including Serbia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. The closure of borders along the Western Balkan route has resulted in thousands of refugees being stranded in Greece, particularly along the border with Macedonia.

According to the International Organization for Migration, since the beginning of 2016 nearly 155,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, with nearly 144,000 coming through Greece.

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