IOM, UN Call for Additional Reception Capacity along Migrants’ Balkan Route
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday urged the countries lying along the so-called Balkans route used by migrants and refugee to reach western Europe to to put in place additional reception capacity at the points of entry and to allow for decent and effective accommodation.
“In the last couple of days, we have witnessed Governments instituting a range of restrictions against movements of refugees and migrants from Greece through the Western Balkans and further northwards,” IOM, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and UNICEF said in a joint statement.
Countries along the Balkan route have begun tightening restrictions by accepting only those fleeing war, causing a backlog of hundreds of people Thursday on the Greek-Macedonian border. Croatia is accepting migrants only from war-affected countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, a Croatian police spokesperson has told AFP.
The new border restrictions against movements of refugees and migrants from Greece through the Western Balkans and further northwards are creating tension at border crossings and a domino effect, leaving in total limbo some refugees and migrants stranded at different border points, according to the statement.
The current situation, if not addressed quickly and comprehensively, will lead to a fragmentation of the routes and additional challenges, the three organizations said.
“UNHCR, IOM and UNICEF therefore call on the concerned States to re-establish coordination and response mechanisms agreed at the Western Balkans Summit on 8 October and the Leaders’ Meeting on 25 October 2015,” the statement read.