IDOMENI , Greece, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Hundreds of refugees in Greece from the Middle East attempted to barge through a razor wire fence Monday on the northern border with Macedonia.
Using a steel pole as a battering ram, the group, part of 6,000 to 8,000 migrants stalled at the border in Idomeni, Greece, and prepared to travel to Western Europe, attempted to enter Macedonia. They ripped away the wire as they hurried past Greek border guards, as police on the Macedonian side attempted to stop them with tear gas. There were no reports of injuries, or an estimate of how many people crossed the border.
Those waiting in Idomeni are living in squalid conditions for over a week, with little food or medicine. Those not in tents are sleeping outdoors, and volunteer groups warn of a pending humanitarian crisis.
Several Balkan countries erected barbed wire fences on their borders to prevent the travel of refugees. Macedonia's new policy prohibits refugees from Afghanistan from traveling through its territory, allowing only those from Syria and Iraq to pass through to Western Europe. A recent decision by Austria to cap its number of refugees, and a coordination of border closings by Austria and several Balkan nations, left Greece with the burden of housing about 22,000 stranded people. The number in Greece is growing, with thousands crossing from Turkey into Greece daily.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel admonished Europe to aid Greece in the current crisis, saying in a television interview Sunday, "Do you seriously believe that all the Euro states that last year fought all the way to keep Greece in the Eurozone [the countries that use the Euro as currency], and we [Germany] were the strictest, can one year later allow Greece to, in a way, plunge into chaos?"