DRAWING ATTENTION: Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei visits refugees at a camp near Idomeni, on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The artist has been focusing on the plight of refugees in recent months, spending time living on the Greek island of Lesbos.
DRAWING ATTENTION: Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei visits refugees at a camp near Idomeni, on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The artist has been focusing on the plight of refugees in recent months, spending time living on the Greek island of Lesbos. VALDRIN Xhemajap

Closure of ‘Balkan trail’ cuts options of asylum seekers

ONE of the main routes used by asylum seekers to enter Europe has been blocked.

With Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia closing their borders to asylum seekers trying to travel towards other countries, the so-called Balkan trail has effectively been shut down.

Media agencies have also reported that Hungary, which borders northern Balkan states, has deployed more security personnel to patrol its southern borders.

The moves - combined with Austria's decision last month to cap the number of asylum seekers travelling through its territory - leave Greece with an estimated 14,000 migrants on its border with Macedonia, many of them living in appalling and dangerous conditions.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz welcome the decision of Balkan countries to block their borders.

"This is putting into effect... the end of the waving through (of migrants), which attracted so many migrants last year and was the wrong approach," he said on public television.

"As Europe, we must help Greece, but we have to make sure that arriving in (the Greek island of) Lesbos doesn't mean a ticket to Germany."

Greek authorities are trying to convince asylum seekers on the Macedonian border to shift to "welcome centres" throughout Greece.


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