izbjeglice, migranti.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Ivo LUČIĆ/ ds

The crossing from Greece to Macedonia has turned into a bottleneck on the Balkan migration route, with around 2,000 people being held up under new admissions rules, Greek state radio reported Monday quoting police.

Facing the freezing cold, migrants were forced to spend the night in buses, with witnesses counting 39 buses south of Idomeni, the village on the Greek side of the border point.

Following the lead of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia further north on the route, Macedonia since last week has granted passage only to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who declare intent to seek asylum in Austria and Germany.

This has slowed processing at the border, creating the bottleneck. 

People meanwhile continued travelling across the Aegean, reaching Greek islands from the Turkish coast even as Athens on Monday was facing mounting pressure from other EU countries to get a better handle on migration flows.

On Monday, 1,481 arrived in Athens from Lesbos and Chios, the coast guard said.

The countries on the Balkan route imposed restrictions after Austria announced last week it would accept only a limited number of asylum seekers through 2019.

Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia worry that if western Europe limits the number of asylum seekers it accepts, they may end up bearing the brunt of migrant influx.

Around 1 million people passed the Balkan route in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration. With more than 36,000 arriving in the first three weeks of this year braving the deadly weather, there is no sign of the rate dropping.

Related stories

Latest news

BASF sales down 18 per cent due to Gazprom asset swap

German chemicals giant BASF said Friday that its revenues decreased by 18 per cent, to 57.6 billion euros (60.9 billion dollars), in 2016, due mainly to a multibillion-euro asset swap with Gazprom, Russia's state-backed gas group.

New Delhi shocked at reports of Indian national dead in US shooting

India was in shock and dismay Friday at the news of the death of an Indian engineer in an alleged racially motivated killing in the United States earlier this week.

42 killed in car bombing in Syria's al-Bab, monitor says

At least 42 people are dead after a car bombing in Syria's northern city of al-Bab on Friday, a day after Turkish-backed rebels seized control of the city from the Islamic State extremist militia, a monitoring group reported.

Car bombing kills at least eight soldiers in Yemen

At least eight government soldiers died in a Friday car bombing in Yemen’s southern province of Abyan, a local security official said.

Report: FBI rejected White House request to deny Trump Russia links

The FBI declined a recent White House request to deny media reports about contact between campaign staff for US President Donald Trump and Russian intelligence before last year's election, CNN reported on Thursday.

Nearly 60% of lower secondary school pupils in EU studying more than one foreign language

Nearly 60 percent of lower secondary school pupils in the European Union studied more than one foreign language, the EU statistical office said.

Lethal nerve agent used to kill North Korean in Malaysia, police say

A nerve agent known as VX was used to kill Kim Jong Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother, in Malaysia last week, police said Friday.

Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu lose UN vote over unpaid fees

Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu are among six nations who have lost the right to vote at the United Nations General Assembly for not paying their compulsory annual contributions.

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.