Macedonia lets in 170 refugees, 10,000 still stranded

Refugees crowd before crossing the border from the Greek side to Macedonia at the northern Greek border station of Idomeni (Photo: AP)

Macedonia on Wednesday allowed some 170 refugees to cross its border with Greece as 10,000 more were left waiting at the border under miserable conditions, Greek officials said.

It was the first group of Syrians and Iraqis permitted to continue their desperate journey to Europe since dawn on Monday, when another 300 were let through before the frontier was closed.

With anger mounting, hundreds then tried to break through the fence but were blocked by Macedonian police who fired tear gas at them, prompting an angry response from the EU.

Since then, Skopje has deployed additional police and troops to the border as a “protective” measure, officials said.

At the Greek border crossing of Idomeni, local officials said there were 7,000 people in two camps operated by aid groups, with another 3,000 camping in the surrounding fields.

Over the past few days, aid groups have reported a shortage of food and tents, warning that the wet weather was taking a toll on the refugees, many of whom have children.

The European Union will on Wednesday announce plans for emergency aid to Greece which is struggling to cope after Balkan states imposed a tight daily limit on the number of migrants allowed into their territory.

Greece has asked for around 480 million euros ($520 million) to help shelter 100,000 refugees as Europe faces its biggest wave of refugees since World War II in a crisis that has sown deep discord and threatened the bloc’s solidarity.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46