Balkan, Austria police agree to register refugees on Macedonian border
Updated: 2016-02-19 11:02
A migrant child sleeps while waiting for transport to Serbia at a transit camp near Gevgelija, Macedonia, February 18, 2016.[Photo/Agencies]
ZAGREB - Police chiefs from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria agreed on Thursday to introduce joint registration of refugees crossing from Greece into Macedonia and organise their transport from the border straight to Austria.
The process will identify and take biometric data from the migrants and determine whether they come from countries deemed dangerous, such as Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. It will not grant them status as asylum seekers, a step that will take place in Austria or whatever other country they might travel to.
"We have agreed to profile and register migrants in Macedonia and organise their transport," Vlado Dominic, the head of Croatia's police said after a meeting of the police chiefs in Zagreb. Once the transport starts, no one will be able to join the convoys, he added.
The aim of the agreement was to avoid having refugees turned back to another country en route, Dominic said.
He said measures agreed would be implemented as of Thursday. Dominic and his counterparts agreed to invite Bulgaria and Albania to join their efforts to register migrants, as the two countries could become part of a new route for migrants coming from Greece on their way to Western Europe.
Austria said on Wednesday it would limit the number of migrants it lets in to 3,200 a day from Friday, turning an annual cap on asylum claims into a daily entry quota. That is likely to cause backlogs on the main refugee route into Europe.
Countries on the Balkan route for refugees fleeing war and instability in the Middle East and Africa have indicated they will follow suit if Austria or Germany imposes any tougher measures on migrant arrivals.