As a result of restrictions by the authorities along the Western Balkans route to the admission of refugees and migrants from countries other than Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, tensions have been rising at idomeni, on the Greek side of the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Violent incidents have lead on several occasions to the temporary closure of the border.
In an announcement UNHCR called on the authorities of both countries to manage the border in a manner consistent with human rights and refugee-protection principles: “UNHCR is saddened by the death of a Moroccan man at the border today under as yet unclear circumstances. This tragic incident further underlines the need for the authorities to take appropriate action. We are calling on the Greek authorities to restore security as a matter of priority in order to ensure the protection of those in need and the safety of humanitarian workers and volunteers”.
Transportation has been made available for the refugees and migrants who have been refused admission into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to return to Athens, where reception facilities and assistance are available and UNHCR staff is present to offer individual advice and legal counselling on a case-by-case basis.
UNHCR reiterates its concerns over the consequences of border restrictions currently implemented by several countries in the Balkans. The organzation recommends profiling people based on their protection needs and not on their nationality.
UNHCR and other organisations have called on the concerned states to re-establish coordination and response mechanisms agreed at the Western Balkans Summit on October 8th and the Leaders’ Meeting on October 25th, 2015.
PHOTO:UNHCR/Y. Kyvernitis (Idomeni border)