Police in Macedonia Used Tear Gas on Refuges and Migrants

Time: 1:14 p.m. CEST Update: 10:37 p.m. CEST

Police in Macedonia used tear gas on hundreds of migrants trying to break through the border fence at the border with Greece. The latest incident happened one and a half months when refugees and migrants tried to pass the razor fence on the border between Greece and Macedonia. About 11.000 refugees are still at Idomeni on the Greek side of the border.This week Greece started deporting refugees and migrants under the European Union and Turkey deal. All Balkan states closed the Balkan route to northern Europe this year.

Reuters news agency video shows refugees and migrants approaching the fence, while police is on the other side of the border. Police fired with stunt grenades at them. Some of the migrants and refugees returned back, while some talked, “No, no” “Stop, stop,” “please, please.” But some others shouted, “Allahu Akbar.

In the official statement, Ministry of Interior of Republic of Macedonia commented the events, “as clashes” in which 23 officers were injured, of which 14 are police officers and nine are members of the Army.” The Ministry says the situation calmed about 6:30 p.m. local time, and “all groups of migrants withdraw on Greek territory.” In a statement, the Ministry confirmed the use of tear gas and water canons.

British Independent says, Laura Samira Naude, an officer at refugee charity Lighthouse Relief, said she witnessed “horrific scenes”. “Some of the refugees were told that the border would be opening up at 9am today. Hundreds of families had their bags packed, ready to leave. They said they don’t want to stay here because otherwise they’ll die.

Jonas Hagensen of Medecins Sans Frontieres told The Independent they were treating people for respiratory prroblems, open wounds and suspected fracture. The charity revealed they were treating pregnant women.

He added: “They began surging towards the fence and managed to cut through in two different parts.”

Fotis Filippou, director of campaigns at Amnesty International, called on the Macedonian police to “fully comply” with international policing standards. Mr Filippou added: “The scenes we are seeing are the expected and unavoidable result of thousands being trapped in Idomeni and elsewhere in Greece – abandoned by Europe – in awful conditions and with little hope of getting protection.

“Greece and the EU must work on real solutions as a matter of urgency: these must include adequate reception conditions in Greece and access to relocation and other schemes that will allow refugees to find sanctuary in other EU member states.”

Mr Hagensen said staff were “badly affected” by the tear gas, and that one patient claimed to have been taken to a room by Macedonian police and beaten for an hour.

BBC News addresses the confusion which police used tear gas. They quoted an unnamed Macedonian police official told AFP: “Greek police are using tear gas near the border with Macedonia. It is calm so far on the Macedonian side of the border.”

Reuters news agency, also quoting an unnamed Macedonian police official, said migrants had thrown stones at the Macedonian police. “The police fired tear gas in response,” the official said. “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.”

Pictures and videos on social media show the tear gas came of the direction of the Macedonian territory. Rare posts on social media claimed police also entered on Greek territory.


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