Macedonia police use tear gas on refugees at Greece border camp

By Doug G. Ware
Macedonia police use tear gas on refugees at Greece border camp
About 12,000 refugees have been living in a makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece, along the border with Macedonia. On Sunday, Macedonian authorities fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the refugees after some tried to break through a fence. Photo by David Caprara/UPI

IDOMENI, Greece, April 10 (UPI) -- Macedonian police near Greece's northern border used tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue refugees at a makeshift camp who tried to break through a fence Sunday after a protest.

Photos and video from media and volunteer relief organizations showed migrants running for cover to avoid canisters of gas.


Migrants from the region have been seeking asylum in Europe in recent months, amid the continent's immigration crisis. The border crossing on Greece's north end had been a popular conduit. The border closed last month, stranding about 12,000 refugees, who were living in squalid conditions at a makeshift camp in Idomeni. Many of them are women and children.

On Sunday, the refugees staged a protest at the border, which was guarded by police on both sides.

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Deutsche Welle reported that the some of the protesters consulted with Greek police before approaching the border to speak with Macedonian authorities.

"We are not the ones who keep the borders closed," a Macedonian police officer said with the help of an English-speaking interpreter, as reported by DW. "We are following Europe's orders. Please remain calm and peaceful and do not try to break the fence."


One of the representatives responded: "We understand, and we want to be peaceful. But behind me there are 10,000 people - refugees who are fleeing war - and they have been here for months now. We want a solution."

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A few minutes later, hundreds of migrants moved toward the fence and some tried to cut through the barbed wire. Macedonian police responded by throwing tear gas canisters, stones and later fired water cannons and rubber bullets.

Doctors Without Borders reported treating at least 300 people, DW reported.

More than 50,000 refugees have been held in Greece since Balkan countries closed their borders to try and stem the flow of asylum-seekers. More than a million migrants fled to Europe last year, officials have said.

Greek authorities have deported hundreds of migrants in recent weeks, particularly those from Turkey.

Hundreds of refugees have died over the last year in widespread attempts to flee war-torn regions in Lebanon, Syria and Afghanistan and seek safer environments in Europe.

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