Macedonian Police Use Tear Gas On Migrants And Refugees Trapped In Greece

About 12,000 people are living in a makeshift camp at the Macedonia-Greece border.

14/04/2016 6:38 AM AEST | Updated 14/04/2016 6:42 AM AEST
Stoyan Nenov/Reuters
Macedonian police fired tear gas Wednesday after about 50 people tried to pull down the razor wire fence separating the country's border from Greece.

About 50 people stranded in a major camp in the Greek town of Idomeni tried Wednesday to tear down part of a fence guarding the Macedonian border, prompting Macedonian police to fire tear gas at them.

Greek authorities arrested 14 activists after the altercation, according to The New York Times, accusing them of encouraging people in the camp to tear down the fence in an attempt to elicit sympathy from European nations and prompt countries to reopen their borders.

More than 12,000 people are stuck in squalid conditions in the camp, after Macedonia and other Balkan nations closed their borders to newcomers trying to escape war and poor economic conditions in their home nations.

Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters
A man and a child are seen through a window of a bus bound for another camp in central Greece. About 12,000 migrants and refugees are stranded at the Greek-Macedonian border.

People living in the camp also attempted to storm the border on Sunday, Reuters reports, leading the Macedonian police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets. About 300 people were injured in that altercation, according to The New York Times, and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos called the Macedonian police's actions "unacceptable and reprehensible."

The European Union and Turkey struck a deal last month to stem the migrant flow across the Aegean Sea. Under the agreement, which went into effect on March 20, migrants and refugees arriving in Greece are allowed to apply for asylum, but will be sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim is not accepted. Many people in the Idomeni camp arrived before that date, leaving their fates in limbo.

The thousands of people in the camp are staying put in hopes that the border will open and they will be able to continue their journeys northward. Macedonia has vowed, however, to keep the border shut until at least the end of the year. 

See photos from Wednesday's events below:

    About 50 migrants and refugees tried to bring down part of a wire fence on the border between Macedonia and Greece Wednesday, prompting the Macedonian police to respond with tear gas.
  • STOYAN NENOV/Reuters
    Wednesday's events mark the second time in less than a week that clashes have erupted between security forces and migrants and refugees at the border.
  • Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    Refugees and migrants in Idomeni could be deported to Turkey, but their aim is to continue onward to northern Europe.
  • Stoyan Nenov/Reuters
    Men tried to break a border security fence during the scuffles. Around 300 people were injured in a similar attempt to get through the border fence on Sunday.
  • Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    People used blankets to pull razor wire from the border fence.
    A man tried to throw a tear gas shell back at the police during the scuffles.
  • Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
    Greek police eventually stepped in as well.
  • Stoyan Nenov/Reuters
    Migrants carried a man who was injured during the scuffles with police.

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