THE European Parliament voted yesterday to approve EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s quota system for settling refugees across member states.
Its decision came as thousands of desperate refugees braved torrential downpours to cross from Greece into Macedonia.
Greek authorities had managed to register about 17,000 people on the island of Lesbos in the space of a few days, allowing them to continue their journey northward further into Europe.
The caretaker government in Athens chartered two extra ferries and sent additional staff to Lesbos to speed up the registration and ease overcrowding on the island, where more than 20,000 refugees had been living in tents since arriving from Turkey.
Around 7,000 people, some children and some elderly, waited in a muddy field near the northern village of Idomeni to cross the Macedonian border beginning in the early hours of yesterday.
Many complained of terrible living conditions, police brutality and predatory fraudsters in Lesbos.
All had crossed by the early afternoon, but more arrived by train, bus and taxi.
Further north, aid workers in Hungary said that conditions were a “disaster” at the border with Serbia, with refugees arriving hourly.
“There are no big tents where people can come, sleep, have a rest. We don’t even have electricity, which means we don’t have warm water,” said Austrian aid worker Kathrin Niedermoser.
Austria suspended rail services carrying refugees from Hungary yesterday on the grounds of overcrowding.
In Denmark, police said that they would no longer try to stop refugees crossing the country in an attempt to reach Sweden.
“We can’t detain foreigners who do not want to seek asylum,” police chief Jens Henrik Hoejbjerg said.
“There is no other option than to let them go and we cannot prevent them from travelling wherever they want.”
Ordinary Danes have volunteered to drive refugees across the sea bridge into Sweden.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that all countries needed to follow EU asylum rules “and that means all countries must register refugees.
“That’s what the Danish government has said before and we assume that all countries follow the rules we have,” he said.