Girl in wheelchair sits silently at shut Macedonian border for hours

By Yannis Behrakis
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Stranded wheelchair-bound Iraqi refugee seen at the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni

Stranded wheelchair-bound Zhino Hasan, 17, and her father Sarkawt wait in front of a closed border gate at Idomeni, hoping that Macedonia would relent and allow her and her family to resume their northward trek through the Balkans to Germany, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

By Yannis Behrakis

IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) - Wheelchair-bound Zhino Hasan, 17, sat silently and alone for most of Friday in front of a closed border gate, hoping that Macedonia would relent and allow her and her family to resume their northward trek through the Balkans to Germany.

Her father, Sarkawt, wheeled her there at daybreak on Friday, hoping to get a headstart in the queue whenever the border Greece shares with Macedonia in the small community of Idomeni reopens.

The Hasan family, Iraqi Kurds from Kirkuk, are among at least 20,000 refugees and migrants trapped in Greece following successive border shutdowns along the Balkan route used by refugees to reach wealthier European nations.

"We want to get to Germany," said Sarkawt Hasan, 46. They arrived in Greece through the island of Lesbos eight days ago.

Strapped in and wearing no shoes, Hasan is handicapped and unable to speak. When it started raining, her family covered her with plastic bags.

Hunched to one side in a black fleece hoodie covering her face, she sat in front of a sliding iron gate topped with razor wire. Occasionally, Zhino's father would call across the border asking Macedonian police to open the gate, but did not get a response.

"I am begging (United Nations' Secretary-General) Ban Ki-Moon for help, I'm begging the EU to open the borders," he said.

"My daughter needs help. I don't know what to do."

Macedonia and other countries along the Balkan route have agreed to limit the flow of migrants to about 580 per day per country, Slovenian police said on Friday, one day after a meeting on the crisis hosted by Austria.

Greece, furious over not being invited to the talks in Vienna, asked its passenger ferry companies and travel agencies on Friday to cut back on bringing migrants and refugees from frontline islands to the Greek mainland.

Macedonia has previously said it will only now allow Syrian and Iraqi nationals to cross its border from Greece.

(Writing By Michele Kambas; Editing by Gareth Jones)