Thursday

22nd Feb 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Libya return demand triggers reintegration headaches

The UN migration agency (IOM) had planned to help return and reintegrate 5,000 people from Libya to their home countries, but ended up aiding 20,000 in 2017. The extra demand has piled on the pressure.

Frontex naval operation to look for 'foreign fighters'

The EU border and coast guard agency, or Frontex, has launched a new naval operation called Themis. The operation replaces its surveillance Triton mission but with a bigger emphasis on security and intelligence gathering.

News in Brief

  1. Belgian PM to host 11 EU leaders ahead of summit
  2. Tusk all but rules out pan-EU candidates in 2019 elections
  3. Tusk: EU budget agreed before 2019 elections 'unrealistic'
  4. Commission fines car cartels €546m
  5. Juncker: 'nothing' wrong in Katainen meeting Barroso
  6. Juncker appoints new head of cabinet
  7. MEPs decide not to veto fossil fuel projects list
  8. Factory relocation risks drawing Vestager into Italian election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  2. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. 21 February in Brussels
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  9. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  10. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  12. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP

Latest News

  1. UK seeks flexible transition length after Brexit
  2. Commission defence of Barroso meeting leaves 'discrepancies'
  3. MEPs bar WMD and killer robots from new EU arms fund
  4. Canete gets EU parliament pension while still commissioner
  5. Bank of Latvia sends deputy to ECB amid bribery probe
  6. We are not (yet) one people
  7. Intellectual property protection - the cure for Europe's ills
  8. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds