Greece protests border closure to Afghans as thousands stranded

Greece protests border closure to Afghans as thousands stranded

Greece said Monday it was taking diplomatic action to persuade Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to accept Afghan migrants as thousands were stranded at its border and main port.

"We have begun diplomatic moves… we believe the problem will be resolved," junior interior minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas told parliamentary television, without elaborating.

Some 5,000 refugees and migrants are stuck at the border with FYROM after the neighboring state Sunday refused to allow passage to Afghans, police said.

Another 3,000 people were blocked in Athens after landing at the port of Piraeus from the Aegean islands, a government source said, adding that officials were scrambling to find room for them.

"We do not expect a (diplomatic) solution today," the government source told AFP, adding: "We will accommodate the Afghans whilst trying to prevent overcrowding at any of the facilities available."

The development came after Austria Friday introduced a daily limit on asylum seekers entering and registering in the country, triggering EU fears of a domino effect along the so-called Balkan migrant route.

Since November, countries on the Balkan route have allowed only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans to continue their journey northwards towards Germany, Sweden and other European nations where they plan to apply for asylum.

"We are making preparations so that even if the problem is not resolved, if there is a violation of European decisions by Serbia and Skopje, to be able to manage the problem that will be created in Greece," Mouzalas said. [AFP]

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