Migrants Try to Break through Greece-Macedonia Border
Over 200 migrants on Thursday tried to break through barbed wire fences to cross from Greece into Macedonia, which imposed new border restrictions last week, throwing stones at police, AFP reporters said.
At least five of the migrants managed to get across in the assault as the crowd shouted "Open the border" to the Macedonia police ranged in front of them.
All five were returned to the Greek side by Macedonian police.
"We can't wait any longer, last night we slept under the rain," Heritier Shabani, a 31-year-old man from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was among the more than 200 trying to get through, told AFP.
"I want to go where I will be welcome," he said, adding that he left his homeland some two months ago, and landed on the Greek island of Samos around ten days ago.
Since last week, Macedonia, which lies on the main migrant route to northern Europe, has restricted passage to only Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans who are considered war refugees. All other nationalities are deemed economic migrants and told to turn back.
Some 800 people are stuck on the border, mostly Iranians, Moroccans, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in addition to sub-Saharan Africans.
They have spent days at Idomeni sleeping on the ground, with humanitarian organizations struggling to provide basic sanitation and shelter.
The government this week said it was encouraging people with no chance of getting across the border to turn back, and would provide transportation, but Shabani said this was not the case.
"The Greeks aren't telling us anything," he said. "There are no buses, or not enough buses".
Some 850,000 people have entered the European Union this year, more than half of them landing in Greece, and the bloc has struggled to formulate a strategy to deal with the crisis.
The security backlash has intensified after at least two of the bombers in the November 13 attacks in Paris were confirmed to have come through Greece, posing as refugees.