Desperate migrants and refugees cross river to Macedonia

Desperate migrants and refugees cross river to Macedonia

SBS World News Radio: Over a thousand migrants and refugees have streamed out of a Greek transit camp seeking a way around a border fence with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Over a thousand migrants and refugees have streamed out of a Greek transit camp seeking a way around a border fence with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

They formed a human chain to cross a river and walked alongside a border fence until it came to an end.

But Macedonia says it will send back several hundred people who then managed to cross into the country.

They hiked for hours along muddy paths, migrants and refugees with just their sparse belongings on their backs.

Among them were children, the elderly and the disabled.

Stranded in filthy conditions at a sprawling tent city in northern Greece after the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia closed its border, they set out to find a way around it.

"We don't want to stay here in that camp." (Reporter: "Why?") "Because we are tired of being there." (Reporter: "Do you think you can cross?") "I think so. We hope we can cross because we are a lot of people. Our number is big now."

Reaching a fast-flowing river, where, earlier in the day, three people had drowned, the migrants and refugees got help from volunteers to cross over.

Ropes were stretched across the cold, thigh-deep water, and parents carried children on their shoulders.

This elderly man from Syria was among those who set out.

(Translated)"We're just following the group, but we don't know where they're going. We've spent 10 days at the Macedonian border, amid the rain. We're living primitive lives. We don't know if we'll make it (across). If they don't let us in, I can't bring my wife back. We'll stay there."

Once they were safely across the river, people followed the border fence with Macedonia for several kilometres to its end.

There, several hundred crossed into the country, where soldiers rounded them up and put them in army trucks.

Macedonia says they will be returned to Greece.

The closure of Macedonia's borders has essentially cut off the route through the Balkains into western and northern Europe for the migrants and refugees.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, under pressure for her policies that aimed to be accepting of refugees, acknowledges Germany has benefited from the closure of the route.

(Translated)"Regarding the Balkan route, yes, there is no doubt that Germany, at the moment, benefits from the fact that fewer people are coming and that also is connected to the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border."

Later this week, European Union leaders and Turkey are due to meet to seal an agreement intended to keep those in Turkey from moving to Europe through Greece.

 

 

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