Refugees who were gathered at the Greece-FYROM border in the Greek town of Idomeni, tried to cross to the other side and clashed with FYROM police.
On Sunday morning, a delegation of five refugees approached the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border and asked for permission to cross so they can continue their journey to central Europe. The FYROM police refused and about 500 refugees and migrants tried to storm the fence, while throwing rocks at the border guards. FYROM police replied with tear gas.
First reports indicate that there are some injuries while several migrants fainted as a result of the tear gas use by the police. Doctors Without Borders said that they offered first aid to several refugees with respiratory problems. “Dozens of people were hurt, mainly suffering respiratory problems, and three had to be taken to hospital,” Doctors without Borders (MSF) official Achileas Tzemos told AFP.
Numerous photos and videos on social media show scores of refugees running from canisters thrown by officers in riot gear. According to some reports, asylum seekers are throwing stones at police. Greek media reported that the unrest started after a brochure was released in Arabic that called on the refugees in Idomeni to gather at the border and attempt to cross it. “Open the border,” “We need European Union” and “Not to return” read the banners held by asylum seekers. They were also heard shouting “Merkel! Merkel!” referring to German Chancellor.
The Greek authorities have condemned the “indiscriminate” force being used against asylum seekers by Macedonian officers.
“The indiscriminate use of chemicals, rubber bullets and stun grenades against vulnerable populations, and particularly without reasons for such force, is a dangerous and deplorable act,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, a spokesman for migration coordinators in the Greek government, as cited by Reuters.