Saturday, February 27, 2016
Refugee Crisis Disunity: Greece ultimately ending up as one giant Refugee center.
Refugee Crisis Disunity: Greece ultimately ending up as one giant Refugee center. (Spiegel).
It has been a week of solo measures and heightened tensions within a deeply fractured Europe. On March 7, the EU will once again attempt to find a solution to the refugee crisis at a special summit meeting in Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to place her hopes on Turkey, with her plan calling for the country to stop the flow of refugees and even take some of them back. But at the same time, countries along the Balkan Route have begun taking measures of their own, with Austria leading the way.
Now that Vienna is only accepting 80 asylum applications per day at the Spielfeld border crossing with Slovenia -- and now that other Balkan countries have constricted the refugee flow in response -- migrants have begun backing up in Greece.
In his interview, Defense Minister Doskozil makes no attempt to contradict the impression that exactly that outcome was intended. Currently, he says, his ministry is examining whether and how many soldiers should be sent to Macedonia to help the country secure its border with Greece.
That border has been closed to Afghans since Monday, with only Syrians and Iraqis allowed to pass. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, a total of only 150 refugees entered Macedonian territory. On Thursday morning, another 100 were allowed to pass, before Macedonia completely sealed off its border. When and whether it will be reopened is unclear.
Greece has now de facto become the collecting point for the vast majority of refugees heading north. The country, says one EU diplomat candidly, "is turning into a single enormous hotspot," referring to the plan to establish central refugee registration points on Europe's periphery.
Greece has been in the throes of a deep economic crisis for years and is now completely overwhelmed by the task of providing food and shelter to tens of thousands of refugees. Some 12,000 migrants are currently stranded in the country and the four official camps are hopelessly overcrowded.
A spokeswoman from Doctors without Borders says that if Afghans continue to be blocked from continuing northward, the system will collapse "in just eight days." Because there is "no realistic emergency plan," she says, her organization is preparing for the worst.
The European Commission is likewise developing emergency aid so as to prevent the collapse of the state on the Turkish border.
Dozens of buses with around 5,000 refugees on board were stopped on the highway by police earlier this week in Greece because the camps in Idomeni, on the Greek-Macedonian border, were already filled beyond capacity. Some 500 people continued on foot, walking along the highway and spending the night alongside angry farmers who have been blocking traffic with their tractors in recent weeks to protest against Tsipras' austerity policies. They are shameful scenes that played out across the country -- all symbolic of European failure. Hmmm.....A month ago i already predicted that Greece would end up with all the refugees. Read the full story here.