FYROM re­opens bor­der as mi­grants get rest­less

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Author­i­ties in the For­mer Yu­goslav Re­pub­lic of Mace­do­nia yesterday re­laxed a crack­down along the coun­try’s bor­der with Greece as crowds of des­per­ate mi­grants and refugees seek­ing to en­ter the Balkan na­tion grew larger and more rest­less.

Ear­lier in the day, FYROM po­lice had used tear gas, stun grenades and even rub­ber bul­lets to dis­perse the crowds, lead­ing to 10 in­juries. Four of the peo­ple in­jured were trans­ferred to hos­pi­tals in the north­ern city of Kilkis. The heavy-handed tac­tics prompted an in­ter­ven­tion by the United Na­tions refugee agency (UNHCR), which called on the gov­ern­ment in Skopje to es­tab­lish the “or­derly man­age­ment” of its borders.

The re­sponse came a day af­ter FYROM de­clared a state of emer­gency and closed its borders due to a large mi­grant in­flux. Author­i­ties re­acted early yesterday morn­ing af­ter dozens of Syr­ian and Afghan youths tried to push past po­lice in riot gear and through the wire fenc­ing that the author­i­ties had used to block the en­try points that mi­grants have used to ac­cess FYROM in re­cent days. Hun­dreds of mi­grants and refugees have been sleep­ing on a nearby rail­way track, lead­ing to the sus­pen­sion of ser­vices.

Af­ter ten­sions peaked yesterday, with some 4,000 mi­grants gath­ered near the Greek bor­der vil­lage of Idomeni, FYROM author­i­ties al­lowed some peo­ple to cross the bor­der, giv­ing pri­or­ity to women and chil­dren.

Lo­cal author­i­ties in Idomeni said they had urged the Greek gov­ern­ment to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion but that there had been no re­sponse.

The flow of mi­grants and refugees north­ward showed no signs of slow­ing. Yesterday af­ter­noon, another ferry docked at Pi­raeus with around 2,300 refugees from the is­lands of the eastern Aegean. Lesvos, Kos and other is­lands are un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure as the in­flux from Tur­key is re­lent­less. Author­i­ties on Lesvos said there were some 11,000 mi­grants on the is­land yesterday.

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