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Migrants protest at Greek-Macedonian border
February 28, 2016 - 1:15pm

VATICAN CITY — The Latest on Europe's immigration crisis. (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

About 300 migrants stranded at the Greek-Macedonian bordered have staged another protest, this time cutting off the railway line connecting the two countries. The protesters are carrying posters reading "Open the border" and shouting the same slogan.

A cargo train on its way to central Europe was forced to turn back.

Over 6,500 refugees are stranded at a tent camp in the Greek border town of Idomeni, as Macedonia has again put in severe border restrictions for migrants. Another 400 migrants are camped at a gas station 17 kilometers (11 miles) away.

Macedonia let in only 300 Iraqis and Syrians on Saturday after closing the border on Friday. It says it is regulating the migrant flow depending on what other countries further north in the Balkans migration route — Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia — do.


5 p.m.

Hungary's prime minister says he has ordered the country's interior and defense ministers to begin preparing defenses along the border with Romania to prevent migrants from entering.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban says yesterday that "if necessary, we will protect ourselves all the way from Slovenia to Ukraine." Last year, Hungary built fences on its borders with Serbia and Croatia to divert the migrant flow.

Orban said yesterday that European Union bureaucrats and Germany's welcoming culture toward migrants are to blame for Europe's migrant crisis.

Orban also lashed out at an initial EU plan to redistribute over 100,000 migrants among the bloc's 28 nations. He says Brussels is looking to set up a "mandatory, permanent and continuous redistribution system" for the migrants.


4:35 p.m.

Two former military barracks, one of them designated as a future refugee camp against local opposition, have been attacked by arsonists in northern Greece.

The unknown assailants set fire late Saturday to a building in the first barracks in the city of Giannitsa, 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Thessaloniki. The building was being used by the city as a warehouse storing wood and paper. The building's roof and the materials inside have burned down.

Another former barracks in the city, this one completely abandoned, was burned down yesterday morning.

The mayor and city inhabitants have opposed government plans to house refugees in one of the barracks, saying they are too close to the city center and near schools. They say they have suggested other locations.


12:45 p.m.

Pope Francis says a concerted response is needed to Europe's migrant problem so that countries share equally the burden of helping those fleeing war and other "inhumane" situations.

Francis is praising Greece and other countries offering "generous" help while being on the front line of the arrivals. Speaking to people in St. Peter's Square yesterday, Francis said a "concerted response can be more effective and distribute equally the weight" of helping the migrants.

He pressed for decisive negotiations by countries to achieve this and said he always keeps the "drama of the refugees" in his prayers.

Francis also welcomed the news of the cease-fire in Syria with hope and invited prayers so this development might bring relief to those suffering from the civil war and lead to peace.

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