Thousands of refugees cross into Macedonia

Riot police use tear gas and stun grenades to drive back crowds but are overwhelmed by several thousand refugees running through empty fields nearby

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Thousands of refugees crossed the Greek border and entered into Macedonia on Sunday, unimpeded by security guards. The riot police was present but did little to slow the passage of steady stream of migrants, many of them are refugees from the Syrian war and other conflicts in the Middle East, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.  

The overwhelmed security forces appeared to abandon their attempts to stop the refugees from trying to reach western Europe by going thru the Balkans, following days of chaos and confrontation.   

Macedonia had declared a state of emergency on Thursday and sealed its southern frontier to refugees, who are pouring in at a rate of 2,000 per day en route to Serbia then Hungary and the Europe Union's borderless Schengen zone. 

The situation resulted in desperate scenes being witnessed at the border, as men, women and children slept under open skies with little access to food or water.

Unnamed Serbian government official said "Last night after midnight the first group of 200 people crossed the border."

"So far we have more than 5,000 new arrivals. This is the biggest number in one day so far. They are waiting in long lines as we process them."

Macedonia has accused neighbouring Greece, with whom it has a tense relationship, of aiding the refugees' journey north, at a pace the Balkan country says it cannot cope with.

Greece has begun chartering boats to take migrants from overwhelmed Greek islands to the mainland, after a record 50,000 refugees hit Greek shores from Turkey in July alone. 

TRTWorld and agencies