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With Migrants Blocked at Border, Greece Recalls Vienna Envoy

  • Henry Ridgwell

Greece has recalled its ambassador to Austria, following a dispute over the migrant crisis. Recall followed a Vienna-hosted meeting with Balkan states that excluded Greece.

Several thousand refugees are stranded on Greece’s border with Macedonia, after travel restrictions were imposed Sunday.

Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia and Austria appear to be denying entry to all refugees apart from Syrians and Iraqis. The restrictions are causing chaos, says Gemma Gillie of Doctors Without Borders, who spoke to VOA via Skype from a refugee camp at Idomeni.

“Based on the fact that Afghanis represent 30 percent of arrivals or around that in Greece, five days from now all of the reception facilities across the mainland of Greece will be full," said Gillie.

Doctors without Borders medics have treated hundreds of people who say they were injured through police violence in Macedonia, including dog bites.

The migrants refused passage and were being bused back to Athens. Among them was Jamshid Azizi from Kandahar in Afghanistan.

"In Syria there is five years of war, in Afghanistan there is more than three decades of war," said Azizi. "ISIS exists in Syria, ISIS exists in Afghanistan. What is the difference between Afghans and Syria?”

The Greek prime minister warned he would not allow the country to be turned into a "warehouse of souls."

A majority of EU states last year voted in favor of relocating 120,000 refugees across the bloc; but, several eastern European states are refusing to accept quotas.

Conversely, Germany expects to accommodate 3.6 million refugees by 2020, according to internal government estimates reported in local media.

At a migration summit Thursday in Brussels, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the flows must be stopped.

"The common goal is to reinforce the external border between Greece and Turkey to such an extent that the number of refugees is significantly reduced," said de Maiziere.

European Council President Donald Tusk warned a failure to resolve the migrant crisis could increase the likelihood of Britain voting to leave the European Union in a referendum scheduled for June.

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