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Greece: Migrants ‘Block’ Road to Macedonia Border


Stranded migrants in northern Greece have blocked the main thoroughfare to Macedonia on February 2.  Refugees from Syria, Iraq and other war and economic torn countries lost their patience after they were delayed because  of a heavy protest by the taxi drivers on the Macedonian side and rallying farmers with their tractors blocking their way on the Greek side of the border.

A group of around 1000 migrants staged their own brand of protest along the North-South highway in Greece.This is their reaction when they find it difficult to cross the borders due to protest from both the sides of Greece and Macedonia.

Migrants loaded in 80 buses, were shouting “ Macedonia! Macedonia!” Most of the migrants were from Syria, who fled the war-torn area last year.

The protest of taxi drivers came after police prioritised trains and buses to transport migrants north to Serbia en route to western Europe. After that, taxi drivers blocked the railway line from the Macedonian side. On the Greece side, farmer are protesting against the Greek Government’s “planned pension reform” to satisfy international creditors. They blocked the side by tractors at the Evzoni border according to a report by NRT.

Regular traffic had been flowing easily with very little disruptions. But the border was effectively closed for migrants before they all came out of their buses after losing patience over the delays and the traffic jam caused by the taxi drivers and farmers.

“We’re working on the problem. We hope it will be resolved soon.” said a police official, on the sensitivity of the situation.

Authorities have provided tents for migrants along the highway. But due to limited facilities, most of the male migrants slept out the tents in the chilling weather to give way to children and women.

“It’s not possible to get all these people into tents. There aren’t enough facilities, so we spent the night on the ground.” said Sadar, a migrant from Iraq.

According to International Organization for Migration, around 62,000 migrants sought refuge in Greece last month from Turkey. IOM spokesman Joel Millman said, “(It) is many, many times what we saw a year ago in the previous January,”, in a report by Channel News Asia.

Around one million of refugees arrived Europe last year, fleeing from Middle East, Africa and Asia.

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