Mace­do­nia re­opens bor­der to Iraqi, Syr­ian mi­grants

Business Mirror - - THE WORLD -

DOMENI, Greece— Mace­do­nia re­opened its bor­der to Iraqi and Syr­ian asy­lum- seek­ers on Satur­day, hours af­ter mi­grants protested peace­fully on the Greek side of the bor­der, de­mand­ing ad­mis­sion into Mace­do­nia. Haider Sahd, a UN field of­fi­cer in Mace­do­nian town of Gevgelija, con­firmed the bor­der open­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press. Ac­cord­ing to Greek po­lice, Mace­do­nia would ad­mit 300 mi­grants on Satur­day.

Mace­do­nian au­thor­i­ties said the num­ber let in could reach 350. A sim­i­lar num­ber of mi­grants, who had en­tered Mace­do­nia ear­lier in the week, boarded a train in Gevgelija on Satur­day, head­ing to Mace­do­nia’s bor­der with Ser­bia.

Mace­do­nia had ef­fec­tively shut down the bor­der to all mi­grants since late Thurs­day night, en­rag­ing the Greek govern­ment. Mace­do­nia has re­peat­edly said it has only slowed down or shut down mi­grant flows in re­sponse to bot­tle­necks fur­ther up along the Balkans mi­grant route.

In two sep­a­rate protests on Satur­day, about 450 refugees gath­ered close to the fence mark­ing the Greece- Mace­do­nian bor­der, car­ry­ing plac­ards read­ing “Open the bor­der” and shout­ing the same slo­gan.

Be­fore Mace­do­nia de­cided to open its bor­der, about 6,000 mi­grants had crowded a nearby tent camp, brav­ing rainy weather overnight, Greek po­lice said. An­other 500 mi­grants are camped at a gas sta­tion 17 kilo­me­ters away.

Al­though the protests were peace­ful, tem­pers were fray­ing among the mi­grants.

“No one can stop the refugees, be­cause peo­ple are dy­ing in Syria and Iraq,” said Mo­hamed Kamel, 39, an Iraqi Kurd from Kirkuk, who was trav­el­ing with his wife and 7- year- old daugh­ter.

“Peo­ple [at the camp] are hun­gry and an­gry,” Kamel added. “If this sit­u­a­tion con­tin­ues, we will break down the fence.”

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