FYROM partially reopens border with Greece to migrants


Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) reopened its border with Greece on Thursday morning after temporarily blocking entry to migrants, but only those seeking refuge in Austria and Germany were allowed to pass, police said.

“The border crossing for migrants near [FYROM border town] Gevgelija opened early this morning, but only those migrants whose Greek registration papers show their final destination as Germany or Austria can enter,” a senior police official in Skopje told AFP.

Around 600 migrants had been stranded at the border on Wednesday after it was closed to migrants, according to Greek police.

The FYROM police official said the move was due to problems with Slovenian trains disrupting the flow of refugees – but Slovenian rail company Slovenske Zeleznice (SZ) insisted they were running as normal.

FYROM’s plans to allow through only those who seek refuge in Austria and Germany follows similar decisions by countries further along the main migrant route – Serbia and Croatia announced they would do the same on Wednesday.

Austria last week also signalled that it would follow neighbouring Germany's lead and begin turning back any new arrivals seeking to claim asylum in Scandinavia, after Sweden and Denmark tightened their borders.

Countries along the Balkan route earlier restricted entry only to refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

More than one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2015, nearly half of them Syrians, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

The International Organisation for Migration said this week that 31,000 had arrived in Greece already this year.