Wednesday

30th Nov 2022

Migrants injured in Greece-Macedonian border clashes

Macedonian police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse migrants at the Idomeni crossing who were demanded that the border with Greece be opened, injuring dozens.

Aid group, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Sunday (10 April) it had treated 300 people, 200 with respiratory problems because of the tear gas, including 30 children between five and 15 years old.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

MSF said the authorities had fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades at those trying to force their way into Macedonia.

The aid group said 40 people had been injured by rubber bullets, and at least 10 reported to MSF teams that the Macedonian police had beaten them.

Greece has condemned the Macedonian police.

“The indiscriminate use of chemicals, rubber bullets and stun grenades against vulnerable populations... is a dangerous and deplorable act,” Greek government spokesman George Kyritsis said.

Violence erupted after a group of migrants approached the border fence between the two countries, asking Macedonian police to open the border.

When they refused, the situation escalated, with Macedonian police officials saying migrants had thrown stones at them.

“The migrants were pushing against the fence but standing on the Greek side of the border. The fence is still there, they have not broken through,” Reuters quoted a police official as saying.

Macedonian police confirmed only the use of tear gas.

More than 11,000 refugees and migrants are stranded on the Greek side of the border at Idomeni, because Balkan countries closed their borders in mid-February, cutting off access to northern Europe.

Greek authorities have been trying to persuade migrants to move to other camps, but people are still waiting at the border in the hope that the borders will open.

More than 50,000 refugees and migrants are stranded in Greece.

'Absurd' crisis

Last week Greece began deporting migrants under an EU-Turkey deal that allows them to send back anyone who does not ask for asylum.

Since deportations have begun, there has been a wave of anxiety among migrants who fear they might also be returned to Turkey or get stuck in Greece.

“Today, frustration and a growing feeling of anger are spreading among the refugees who have been stranded in Idomeni for over one month,” Jose Hulsenbek, MSF’s Head of Mission in Greece said in a statement.

“What we see is the inevitable result of thousands being trapped in Greece, a country unable to respond to the humanitarian and protection needs of those in search of safety in Europe.

“This absurd humanitarian crisis created by European states’ policies is becoming more unbearable by the day.”

The International Organisation for Migration said the rate of arrivals to the Greek islands from Turkey had dropped in the first week of April.

But hundreds still try the perilous journey between Turkey and the islands.

Greece's coastguard said on Saturday that at least five migrants had drowned in the eastern Aegean Sea after a small plastic boat capsized – thought to be the first deaths since the EU-Turkey came into force.

The bodies of four women and a child were found north-east of the Greek island of Samos, close to the Turkish coast.

Most of the 6,750 migrants already on the Greek islands are applying for asylum, and deportations have been halted to process their claims.

Nikos Xydakis of the Greek foreign ministry said over the weekend it would take at least two weeks to fix the process of deporting migrants.

Greece begins migrant deportations to Turkey

Greece has started sending back migrants to Turkey under the EU deal. The German interior minister suggests similar agreements might be necessary in northern Africa.

Interview

Turkey will not give in to EU on refugee laws

Turkey will not change its laws to appease EU demands to increase protection of asylum seekers and will refuse any oversight on how it applies its rules, its EU ambassador says.

EU dismayed as Macedonia crisis reignites

A decision to pardon everybody under investigation for electoral fraud has reignited a political crisis in Macedonia - a front-line state in the EU refugee crisis.

Greece gets two-week deadline for border plan

Greece gets two weeks from the EU commission to come up with a plan to better manage the passport-free Schengen zone's external borders, or face an extention of border checks.

Sweden says 'no' to EU asylum relocation pledges

Sweden won't make any pledges to relocate asylum seekers under a French-inspired EU plan because there is no legal basis, says Sweden's ambassador to the EU. But Sweden's new right-wing government is also tightening migration rules.

News in Brief

  1. 'Pro-Kremlin group' in EU Parliament cyberattack
  2. Ukraine will decide on any peace talks, Borrell says
  3. Germany blocks sale of chip factory to Chinese subsidiary
  4. Strikes and protests over cost-of-living grip Greece, Belgium
  5. Liberal MEPs want Musk quizzed in parliament
  6. Bulgarian policeman shot dead at Turkish border
  7. 89 people allowed to disembark in Italy, aid group says
  8. UN chief tells world: Cooperate on climate or perish

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  3. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission proposes suspending billions to Hungary
  2. EU: Russian assets to be returned in case of peace treaty
  3. Frontex leadership candidates grilled by MEPs
  4. Portugal was poised to scrap 'Golden Visas' - why didn't it?
  5. Why the EU asbestos directive revision ... needs revising
  6. Nato renews membership vow to Ukraine
  7. Catalan spyware victims demand justice
  8. Is the overwhelming critique of Qatar hypocritical?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  2. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  4. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  6. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us