Macedonia police, migrants clash on Greece border
Macedonian police have fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants who desperately tried to rush over the country’s border with Greece.
At least eight people were injured near the Greek border village of Idomeni on Friday as the riot police beat the migrants back with truncheons.
On Thursday, Macedonia declared a state of emergency and sealed the border, stranding over 3,000 people, mostly Syrian refugees, who were struggling to reach northern Europe and start a new life.
While Macedonian officials played down the crisis, rights groups slammed the country’s way of tackling the conflict.
“Macedonian authorities are responding as if they were dealing with rioters rather than refugees who have fled conflict and persecution,” said Amnesty International’s deputy Europe director Gauri van Gulik.
“Every country has the power to patrol its own borders, but this kind of para-military response is an unacceptable push-back in violation of international law,” the Amnesty official added.
Macedonian officials were, however, forced to open the border after tensions boiled over on Friday. A limited number of migrants, mostly families with children and pregnant women, were then allowed to cross the border.
A large number of the migrants have set up a makeshift camp in the fields of Idomeni. Some of them sleep inside railway cars and on the tracks, and others huddle together in tents.
Many of those stranded on the Greece-Macedonia border hope to reach Germany or Sweden finally.
According to UN estimates, some 160,000 people have landed on Greece’s shores since the beginning of the year, with 50,000 arriving in the past month alone.
Most of the migrants are fleeing hardships inflicted on them and their families due to conflicts in countries like Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
Europe’s interior and foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in mid-October to discuss the issue of migrants and ways to respond to the huge influx of migrants reaching its borders.