Migrant tensions rise at the Macedonian-Greek border

Updated: 2016-02-23 08:47


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SKOPJE - Several hundred migrants coming from Afghanistan tried to forcibly enter into Macedonia on Monday, ripping apart the fence at the Macedonian-Greek border.

Migrant tensions rise at the Macedonian-Greek border

An Afghan man holds a baby as Afghan migrants who try to reach a camp next to the Greek-Macedonian border are blocked by Greek police in order to prevent a bottleneck, as Macedonia has closed its borders with Greece for Afghan migrants, near the village of Idomeni, Greece, February 22, 2016.  [Photo/Agencies]

Four migrants managed to tear the fence using tools and their bare hands, but were quickly stopped by the Macedonian police forces.

New tensions rose at the border near the Macedonian town of Gevgelija when the Macedonian authorities decided to limit the admission of Afghan migrants because other countries along the Balkan route had started implementing the same measure.

This resulted in the number of Afghan migrants in the Greek border camp Idomeni increasing to several thousands. Their patience is waning and Greek media warned the situation could easily get out of control and lead to violence.

"I can no longer wait," 17-year-old Ali Nowroz, who trekked from Jaghori Zeba, Afghanistan, told Greek newspaper Kathimerini. "We have spent three nights in the cold, we are hungry. They told me that the borders have been closed to us. However, when I started from Afghanistan I knew borders were open for us. I am going to the Idomeni border crossing to find out and ask why they have closed it."

The Macedonian foreign affairs ministry explained on Monday that the purpose of the new measure was not to close off the border with Greece, but to allow only migrants whose status would be accepted to continue their travel along the Balkan route towards EU countries.

According to the official statistics of the Macedonian interior ministry, in the last 24 hours, 773 migrants were admitted entry to Macedonia from Greece. Out of this number, 611 were citizens of Syria, 160 came from Iraq, and only two from Afghanistan.