Global Independent Analytics

Migrants seek new routes into Balkans after formal borders sealed

After weeks stranded at a closed border in northern Greece, migrants and refugees are seeking out new, irregular routes to get into Macedonia

Fedja Grulovic for Reuters reports: tens of hundreds of those fleeing war were clambering through forests and over hills under the cover of darkness. As dusk fell on Saturday evening, a Reuters witness saw a group of up to 70 people crossing into Macedonia from Greece, at a point where there is no razor wire fence between the two countries. They darted in and out of a forest, hiding from authorities.

It was roughly a 20 km (12 mile), or four-hour walk from Idomeni, a sprawling tent city hosting thousands of refugees and migrants stranded by a cascade of border shutdowns throughout the Balkans in February. Others at the campsite were also mulling their options to leave Idomeni and find vulnerable points along the border to cross into the Balkans, the preferred route to western Europe, continues Grulovic.

"There is no other solution," said Moutaz, a Syrian from Aleppo. "Let him (others) put himself in my position, what would he do with this life we are living? Will he be ok with it, what is happening and what he is seeing?" Fellow Syrian Eyas from Damascus said he would attempt to cross the Albanian border further west. "There is a chance you will get there through the Macedonia route, but the Macedonian military will send you back," he told Reuters.

Human rights organizations and activists claim that the living conditions at the camps in Idomeni are far from great, which makes some refugees risk their lives by traveling on their own. Other recourse to illegal human traffickers, who charge anything between $350 and $600 per person to smuggle people across the border.

Since last year, more than a million of immigrants escaping wars in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, have flooded Europe through Greece. Now there are more than 10,000 refugees camped out in tents in the fields of Idomeni. Greek authorities have repeatedly urged refugees and migrants to move to organized reception centers elsewhere in the country.

                                                            

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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