Migrants in Greece protest border closures, deportations

Hundreds of migrants demonstrated Thursday in Greek reception centres against border blockades and deportations, demanding passage to wealthy parts of Europe.

Syrians, Afghans and Pakistanis chanted "open the borders" during protests in the Athens port Piraeus, demanding to be allowed to continue north and west, according to Greek media reports at the scene.

Macedonia and other Balkan countries last week sealed their borders to migrants hoping to continue along the route from Greece used by nearly 1 million migrants in the previous 12 months to reach wealthier European countries.

On Lesbos, around 400 Pakistanis protested the deportation of so-called economic migrants, who do not qualify as refugees. The Greek island has been the main gateway for migrants arriving across the Aegean from Turkey.

According to official Greek figures, 608 migrants from Algeria, Tunis, Morocco, Pakistan and Bangladesh were returned to Turkey since the start of the year. The deportations are based on an agreement between Ankara and Athens.

Tens of thousands of migrants continue to stream into Greece and are massing at reception centres across the country, following the closure of Macedonian borders.

Thousands are enduring miserable conditions in the Idomeni camp on the border with Macedonia, in hopes of eventually being allowed to pass. Another 4,000 are being sheltered in the Athens area, while thousands more are waiting in island reception centres.

Greece did report a decline in new arrivals over the previous few days, with only 239 arrived from Turkey on Wednesday and Thursday morning, down from the past week's daily average of more than 1,250.

However it is unclear whether this slowing of arrivals is likely to continue in the next weeks.

Last update: Thu, 17/03/2016 - 13:42
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