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Macedonia Closes Idomeni Border Again

For the third time this year, Macedonian authorities today closed the border with Greece. 

Macedonian border police spokesperson, Liza Bendevska confirmed that from 1pm, all refugees including those from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan would not be allowed to cross the border at Idomeni until further notice. 

“Macedonian border authorities closed the border temporarily because Croatia announced that there is no room for new incoming refugees in Slavonski Brod camp,” she said.

She stated that the closure was due to a request from Croatia to stem the flow of people.

“Zagreb informed both Macedonian and Serbian authorities that there is no space in the camp in Croatia, appealing to both countries close their borders,” she said.

The Slavonski Brod reception centre in Croatia has a capacity of 5,000.

Gemma Gillie, a spokesperson for Médecins Sans Frontières, speaking from Idomeni Camp, said there are around 1800 people waiting at the border. 

“Idomeni Camp is currently full and there are around 800 people there. There are also 19 buses at the Polykastro Gas Station, which would have taken around 1000 people there.”

This is the third time that Macedonia has authorised the closure of the border at Idomeni. 

On January 18, the closure lasted 24 hours, and was in effect overnight, as temperatures plummeted and people were forced to wait outside. 

Today, conditions are milder, according to Gemma Gillie of MSF.

“The situation is exactly the same as last week, people don’t have any information about what’s going on, but are waiting to pass through. But at least it’s sunny - people are lying in the sun and playing football,” she said. 

More than 44,000 refugees have entered Greece so far this year.