Monday, February 29, 2016
FYROM: Police fire tear gas on migrants storming border
BELGRADE – Macedonian police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of migrants and refugees who stormed the border from Greece on Monday, tearing down a gate as frustrations boiled over at restrictions imposed on people moving through the Balkans.
A Reuters witness said Macedonian police fired several rounds of tear gas into crowds who tore down the metal gate and onto a railway line where migrants sat refusing to move, demanding to cross into the country.
There were an estimated 8,000 people gathered at Idomeni, the small frontier community on Greece’s border with Macedonia. Most were Syrians and Iraqis.
Earlier on Monday, a crush had developed along the frontier after rumors spread that Macedonian authorities had opened the border after several hours of it remaining sealed shut.
Crowds who gathered at the razor wire fence proceeded to use a heavy metal pole to bring down a gate by digging beneath the barrier and using force to push it up and out. At least two people collapsed in the crush and ensuing use of tear gas, Reuters television images showed.
At least 22,000 refugees and migrants have been stranded in Greece in the past week since border restrictions began along other countries in the Balkan corridor used by individuals to get to central and northern Europe.