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Macedonian Migrant Crisis in Numbers

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 09:26 By Sanja Stamenkovic, Jefferson Institute

When the European Migrant crisis arose in Spring 2015, only a few could have foreseen declaring a state of emergency in Macedonia, on 20th August. Macedonia closed its' 45 km long border to Greece, and left a thousands of refugees stranded on the no man's land. Police turned violent and used tear gas and stun grenades on migrants. Several people were injured.

Macedonia became a major stop on the so-called Black Route leading across the Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to the European Union countries. Although Greece is a part of the EU, migrants rarely choose to stay there because of the ongoing economic crisis. Most of the refugees are hoping for a final stop in Germany, Nederland or Sweden.  

The massive influx of refugees fleeing from war-affected parts of Africa and Middle East seem to have surprised Macedonian authorities. Some estimates say around 2,000 people are crossing Macedonian border daily. State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia registered only 2,538 immigrants from abroad for the whole 2014, most of them - 1,044 in Skopje.

Macedonian government passed a law that limits a passing through migrants' stay to a 72 hours. The plan is that after the migrants are 'processed', they board a train to Serbia. It turned out that Macedonian trains don't have the necessary capacity, which led to another crisis

Over the past month, almost 40,000 refugees are registered to pass through Macedonia. Some estimate the real number to be twice as large, when counting those who entered and exited the country illegally. 

EU countries agreed to take in 40,000 migrants by the end of the year. The result of the Syrian Civil War is more than 4 millions of refugees. Germany alone expects over 800,000 asylum seekers this year - 4 times more than the previous year. 

While Hungary is building a fence on its' border to Serbia, the lack of will for the migrant crisis solution is becoming more and more obvious. The news about the capsizing boats carrying refugees just keep coming while the EU is trying to avoid humanitarian catastophe. 

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