ATHENS, Greece — Dreams rarely come true, at least not for long.
For a few incredible months, the prospect of a better life in Europe seemed within grasp, attracting a wave of more than 1 million migrants from the war-torn, poverty-stricken Middle East and Africa. To get there, they risked their lives at sea and parted with fortunes.
But a tightening of border controls closer to the promised lands of Germany and Sweden has left thousands trapped and destitute in the last place most want to be — financially wrecked Greece.
Ayman Daher, 29, from Lebanon, paid smugglers $1,500 to squeeze onto a rubber boat with 80 people for the short and often deadly crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Chios. His destination was Germany, where his father and three brothers live.
"Life is good and safe there," Daher said. "In my country it is not."
To reach Germany, he would have to traverse the western Balkans, starting with Macedonia on Greece's northern border — as hundreds of thousands did with relative ease for about five months last year.
That happened because Balkan countries opened their borders in June to all transient asylum-seekers, in one of several policy lurches as a fragmented Europe vacillated between pity for refugees and concern over security and integrating huge numbers of immigrants.
But in late November the Balkan gateways started to close, and Greek officials fear they could be completely shut in coming months. Now, only Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis are deemed refugees and let through, with all others — about 12,000 of the 103,000 who entered Greece in December — rejected as economic migrants.
This seems absurd to Saleh Al Riyashy, 45, a former policeman from Yemen — whose civil war has been compounded by 10 months of airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition.
"Why does Macedonia only allow people from three countries through?" he said. "Other countries are at war too. My home was badly damaged in the fighting."
Al Riyashy and his family have spent the past week at Athens' Elaionas migrant camp, where about 560 people from 14 countries live in prefabricated homes. He wants to reach Sweden.
Pour lire l'article en entier : http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/01/11/world/europe/ap-eu-migrants-trapped-in-greece.html