Global Independent Analytics

Macedonian police fires tear gas and rubber bullets at migrants trying to sneak through border

“The asylum system is frankly quite ridiculous. People have to lodge their applications through Skype, but in the camp it’s just not plausible.”

Peter Yeung reporting for the Independent: Police in Macedonia fired at the migrants and refugees who tried to illegally enter the country’s territory. More than 500 people were caught in the act of trying to break through a border fence at the Idomeni camp in Greece.

A handful of recordings and photos taken while the event occurred show people running away from exploding gas canisters and stun grenades thrown by officers in riot gear. Some people were shown carried away unconscious.

Witnesses claim that they heard some loud sounds, probably explosions, as helicopters flew overhead and rubber bullets were fired. They also told that the fence was successfully breached in two places and that some people managed to slip through before being met with Macedonian forces response.

Laura Samira Naude, an officer at refugee charity Lighthouse Relief, said she witnessed “horrific scenes.”

 

 

Ms. Naude told The Independent: “The police were firing so much tear gas and rubber bullets too. Young babies had to be treated.”

“Some of the refugees were told that the border would be opening up at 9 am 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.”

“The asylum system is frankly quite ridiculous. People have to lodge their applications through Skype, but in the camp it’s just not plausible. So their asylum requests aren’t even being processed.”

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

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.

The 28 European Union member states last month voted to shut down the so-called “Balkan route,” leaving 42,000 refugees stranded on Greek soil. The Greek interior minister Panagiotis Kouroublis said the conditions at Idomendi, where more than 11,000 refugees currently live, are comparable to Nazi concentration camps.

International aid charity Médecins sans Frontières estimated more than 30 per cent of the refugees in the Idomeni camp were children, many of whom were struggling with infections and illnesses.

By Stefan Paraber for GIA

 

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