Macedonian police use teargas in clashes on Greek border, amid fears bottlenecks could result in humanitarian crisis
Hundreds of migrants attempted to break through a border fence from Greece into Macedonia with an improvised battering-ram made from a road sign.
Macedonian police fired tear gas rounds after a group of around 300 Iraqi and Syrian migrants forced through a Greek police cordon and ran along a railway track, before breaking open gates laced with barber wire.
“Open the borders!” they shouted, prompting police to fire volleys of tear gas which prevented them from crossing.
The angry protest took place several hours after Macedonia allowed some 300 Syrians and Iraqis to cross before resealing the frontier, keeping thousands of others out.
Greece faces a bottleneck of tens of thousands of migrants after the Balkan states, led by Austria, imposed caps on migrant crossings and denied entry to Afghans.
As the bottleneck showed little sign of easing, German Chancellor, Angela Markel said, “We can’t just abandon this country,” she said in an interview late on Sunday, pointing the finger at Austria, whose introduction of restrictions on February 19 triggered a domino effect.
This photo taken from the Macedonian side shows refugees and migrants in the northern Greek village of Idomeni approaching the Greek-Macedonian border Photo: AP
“When one insists on his border, the other suffers. That’s not my Europe.”
On the ground, thousands continued to mass at the Idomeni crossing in the hope it would be opened after a day of protests in which scores of people lay down on the railway tracks, among them women and children, some holding slogans reading “Open borders” and “We are humans, not animals”.
The build-up at Idomeni camp, which can accommodate up to 1,500 people but is currently sheltering more than 6,000, began last week after Macedonia began refusing entry to Afghans and imposed stricter controls on Syrians and Iraqis.
EU members Slovenia and Croatia quickly followed suit along with Serbia, with all four states imposing a daily limit of 580 migrants.
The European Commission is in talks with Greece to dispense emergency aid amid fears the bottleneck could trigger a humanitarian crisis.