Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia have started screening migrants and refugees on the basis of nationality and allowing entry only to those coming from Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, the United Nations refugee agency said on Thursday.
Serbia sent 200 people who were not from those three countries back to Macedonia on Tuesday night, William Spindler, a spokesman for the refugee agency, said in an interview.
Some of those who were sent back were admitted to a refugee reception post in Tabanovce, on the Macedonian side of the border, but about 100 were refused entry and are now stranded in the open in what amounts to a no man’s land, he said.
The Red Cross was allowed to distribute blankets, but the refugee agency has not been able to gain access and is concerned for the migrants’ situation, Mr. Spindler said.
“Cold weather is forecast for the weekend and we are appealing to authorities to address their situation as soon as possible,” he added.
Macedonia has also started screening migrants at its border with Greece, and Croatia is now screening arrivals at its border with Serbia, he said.
More than half the migrants arriving in Europe this year have come from Syria, and another large group, about 14 percent, has come from Afghanistan, but people from other nations are also among those seeking refuge in Europe and should be given equal treatment, Mr. Spindler said.
“You can’t assume that someone who comes from a certain country is not a refugee,” he said. “Asylum has to be based on merit, not nationality.”