Sunday

30th Apr 2017

Migrant tensions flare at Macedonian-Greek border

  • Greece's Idomeni refugee camp is full, tensions are running high (Photo: Reuters)

Macedonian police used stun grenades and tear gas to push back hundreds of frustrated Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers stuck on the Greek side of the border, after they tried to force their way across the border into Macedonia on Monday (29 February).

Thousands are stuck on the Greek side after Austria and Balkan countries restricted border crossings, with people forced out of the Idomeni refugee camp onto surrounding fields.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

About 6,500 Syrian and Iraqi refugees are camped out around Idomeni, with another 500 moved to a make-shift camp nearby.

Aslyum seekers desperate to move on to the north chanted “Open the border!" and "We want to go to Serbia!" and pushed their way passed Greek police, but the Macedonian forces repelled the protestors, AP reported

Several women and children were nearly trampled and Macedonian authorities said one officer was injured, AP said.

According to reports, only about 50 asylum seekers were allowed to cross into Macedonia on Monday, making the bottleneck, which had feared for months, very real in Greece.

Authorities say more than 22,000 people are now stuck and more are arriving every day. That number could reach up to 70,000 by next month.

Macedonia said it will only allow in as many people as Serbia accepts, and Serbia has been allowing fewer people as Austria capped the numbers it allowes in and through its territory daily.

With the bottleneck scenario is creating a humanitarian crisis in Greece, German chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out against Austria.

“We can't do this in such a way that we simply abandon Greece,” Merkel said Sunday on ARD television.

“This is exactly what I fear: When one country defines its border, another must suffer. That is not my Europe,” she added.

The European Commission has been working on “contingency plans” to help Greece and other Western Balkan countries cope with the crisis.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the commission is preparing to allocate €700 million over the next three years for humanitarian aid inside the bloc, primarily for Greece.

Merkel stands her ground on migration

The German chancellor Sunday ruled out closing German borders. She also vowed to help Greece and to fight for a European solution to the refugee crisis.

EU unveils €700m refugee fund with Greece in mind

The EU commission plans to spend up €700 million on refugee aid in member states over the next three years. "This assistance, to a great extent, will go to Greece," a senior official said.

Danes to appeal conviction for helping refugees

A Danish couple have been fined €3,000 for giving a lift to Syrian refugees, which judges deemed to be smuggling. They plan to appeal against the verdict in order not to set a precedent.

EU stands aside as Hungary detains migrants

Commission is withholding action on Hungary's detention of asylum seekers, even as the Hungarian government tries to "stop Brussels" on immigration policy.

Austria wants out of EU migrant relocations

Austria is required to start relocating asylum seekers from Italy and Greece after an exemption to the scheme ended on 11 March. But Austria's chancellor has other ideas and wants the exemption prolonged.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual