Macedonia appeals for more trains to transport migrants

Skopje (AFP) - Macedonia warned Wednesday it is running out of trains to transport the thousands of Syrian refugees heading toward the EU, and said it has urged its neighbours to help combat the "alarming situation".

"The Macedonian Railway Company has no more capacity to carry all those who want to travel toward western European countries," the head of the state railway Nikola Kostov told Telma television channel.

"The situation is alarming," Kostov said, referring to an influx of migrants that has already brought thousands of refugees to the Macedonian town of Gevgelija on the border with Greece, where they take trains to continue north towards Serbia and eventually the European Union.

According to the UN refugee agency, in the last week alone, 20,843 migrants -- virtually all of them fleeing war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq -- arrived in Greece, which has seen around 160,000 land on its shores since January.

From there they travel through Macedonia and Serbia towards the EU borders.

Kostov said that Macedonia had asked neighbouring countries and others in the region to send more wagons, but none had responded so far.

"All our resources have been exhausted and it will only get worse in the coming days," Kostov said, as a new wave of refugees coming from Greece was expected by the end of the week.

The Greek government transports thousands of refugees by ferry from islands to the Greek mainland, namely the northern port city of Thessaloniki, where they are put on buses to the border with Macedonia, according to the officials.