Macedonian police teargas refugees protesting at Greek border (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Macedonian police have fired tear gas at refugees protesting on the Greek side of the barbed wire fence dividing the two countries. The asylum seekers have been stranded near Idomeni, Greece, since Macedonia shut its borders in February.
Around 50 refugees gathered at the fence in protest on Wednesday, prompting scuffles between demonstrators and police, who responded with tear gas, Reuters reported.
At least one person has been injured, according to reports on social media.
It comes just two days after a group of refugees hijacked a train carriage at Idomeni station in Greece. They attempted to use it to break through a police barricade. Several hundred asylum seekers pushed the wagon towards the border with their bare hands, having filled the carriage with rocks intended to be used as weapons against the police.
On Sunday, hundreds of refugees were wounded in clashes with Macedonian police, after officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a group trying to storm the border.
A deputy field coordinator with Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said around 300 people were treated for injuries following the Sunday clashes, and that more than 30 were wounded by rubber bullets – including three children. Thirty others had open wounds and 200 had respiratory problems from tear gas exposure.
Police in Skopje said three officers were also hurt in the clashes.
Protests and violence have become commonplace at the Greek border, where more than 50,000 refugees have been stranded since Macedonia and other Balkan countries shut their borders in February.
An estimated 11,500 people are currently at a refugee camp in Idomeni, stranded in squalid conditions as they await their fate. The camp has been described as a “modern Dachau” by Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis.
It comes as Europe continues to face the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with over a million migrants arriving last year. Most of the refugees come from Syria, where a civil war has killed 250,000 people and displaced more than 12 million since 2011, according to UN figures.
The European Union struck a deal with Turkey in March, under which illegal migrants reaching Greece from Turkey are returned. In response, the EU agreed to take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey.
However, European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker are set to debate the deal on Wednesday. This follows strong criticism from human rights groups that have questioned whether Turkey is a safe place for migrants to be returned to. Skepticism increased after Amnesty International revealed Turkey has returned thousands of Syrian refugees to the war-torn country since mid-January.