1000 migrants break the siege and get into Macedonia border

  • The Guardian |
  • Monday 14 March 2016
 More than a thousand people walk from a camp near the Greek village of Idomeni as they try to find an alternative way to cross the border between Greece and Macedonia. Photograph: Nake Batev/EPA

More than a thousand people walk from a camp near the Greek village of Idomeni as they try to find an alternative way to cross the border between Greece and Macedonia. Photograph: Nake Batev/EPA

More than 1,000 people from a camp in northern Greece have got around a border fence and crossed into Macedonian territory on Monday, according to witnesses.

A large group of refugees and migrants reportedly marched away from the sprawling tent city near Idomeni, where at least 12,000 people have been stranded in filthy conditions since Macedonia and other nations blocked their route north along the so-called Western Balkan route. Later, a second group of 500 set off from Idomeni to follow them.

Heading west from the camp in a long, snaking cavalcade via muddy paths, and wrapped up in coats and hats, they carried their belongings in rucksacks and bags. The group included many children, some walking, others pushed in strollers.

Some made victory signs as they walked along. There was no sign of police following them.

When they reached a river, the travellers passed a rope across it and formed a “human chain” to cross, Reuters photographer Stojan Nenov said. Some carried children across on their shoulders.

They then found a way around the fence put up by Macedonian authorities to keep them out, Nenov observed. Macedonian soldiers put some of the people in army trucks but it was unclear where they would be taken.

An intelligence source in Macedonia said a group had entered the country. “Police and army are aware, they intervened,” the source said.

Earlier, Macedonian police said three people – two men and a woman – had drowned while trying to cross a river close to the Greek border swollen by heavy rain.

Greece has stepped up efforts to move thousands of people near the Macedonian border to sheltered camps amid fears about the spread of infectious diseases.

EU leaders and Turkey are due to meet again on Thursday and Friday to try to seal a deal to stem the flow of people from Turkey to Europe through Greece.


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