Frontiers/Borders

Drowned babies and toddlers washed onto Greece's famed Aegean Sea beaches, and a grim-faced diver pulled a drowned mother and child from a half-sunk boat that was decrepit long before it sailed. On shore, bereaved women wailed and stunned-looking fathers cradled their children. At least 27 people, more than half of them children, died in waters off Greece Friday trying to fulfill their dream of a better life in Europe.

Mounting one of its biggest rescue operations in the Aegean Sea this year, the Greek Coast Guard on Wednesday saved some 240 migrants after a large wooden smuggling boat capsized in high winds off the Greek island of Lesbos, killing three people, including two children. The search continued late into the night in a bid to find more survivors.

The small Balkan nations on the path of the human migration through Europe are seeing record numbers of asylum-seekers cross their borders, and are overwhelmed in their ability to manage the human flow. Despite hopes that plummeting temperatures and treacherous seas would finally slow the tide of refugees flowing into the heart of Europe, fresh fighting in Syria and growing fears of border closings are driving more migrants to undertake the treacherous trek.

They arrived in an unceasing stream, 10,000 a day at the height, as many as a million migrants heading for Europe this year, pushing infants in strollers and elderly parents in wheelchairs, carrying children on their shoulders and life savings in their socks.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Wednesday that a refugee crisis was looming in Central and North America as people flee unchecked gang violence in parts of Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. “The dramatic refugee crises we are witnessing in the world today are not confined to the Middle East or Africa,” the high commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said in Washington.

L'UE tenait dimanche, dans l'urgence et un climat de tensions, un mini-sommet avec les pays européens les plus exposés à l'afflux de migrants transitant par les Balkans afin de juguler «collectivement» une crise sans précédent qui menace l'unité de l'Europe. 

En quelques semaines, la crise des migrants qui s’entassent aux frontières de l’Europe a fait doubler le nombre de migrants qui vivent tant bien que mal sur ces terrains vagues que l’on nomme la « jungle », près de la zone portuaire.

Ce n’est pas ce nouveau rendez-vous bruxellois qui allait résoudre la crise des migrants qui menace de déstabiliser l’Europe. Mais le « mini-sommet » bruxellois de dimanche 25 octobre, consacré à la route des Balkans occidentaux qu’empruntent des milliers de réfugiés syriens, irakiens ou afghans, a eu au moins le mérite de mettre tous les dirigeants concernés autour de la table. 

En distribuant des verres d’eau aux migrants qui traversent son village, Alan (qui n’a pas voulu donner son nom de famille) rigole : « Il y a deux jours j’ai dit aux gens du village voisin que Kljuc Brdovecki était devenu le centre du monde. » 

With freezing weather setting in, tens of thousands of migrants surging across Europe could face even more hurdles after European Union leaders pledged to stem their flow by introducing tighter border controls.

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