Macedonian guards filmed threatening refugees with batons

Guards attempt to control arrival of 4,000 people on the border with Greece

A Macedonian policeman lifts his baton against refugees and migrants as they wait to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia. Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

A Macedonian policeman lifts his baton against refugees and migrants as they wait to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia. Photograph: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

 

Macedonian guards were filmed threatening refugees with batons and at times appearing to strike them, as thousands of people, including parents with children, gathered in muddy fields on the border with Greece.

In torrential rain yesterday, about 4,000 people were trying to cross Greece’s northern border into Macedonia at the Greek town of Idomeni. Greek border police said it was the largest single wave of refugees and migrants they had seen so far. The refugees, many from Syria, wrapped themselves in plastic bin bags to protect from the downpour.

Macedonian police formed a human chain on the border to limit the flow of refugees into more manageable groups, letting families with young children cross first. But in seeking to maintain order, guards in battle fatigues ordered the refugees to sit in the mud, sometimes shoved people back and at times appeared to hit people with batons. By early afternoon, all had crossed but thousands more were on their way.

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The European Parliament has backed the plan of EU commission president Jean Claude Juncker to relocate 160,000 refugees in Hungary, Greece and Italy across other member states. EU ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting on the issue on Monday; several eastern EU nations have already voiced opposition to a mandatory allocation of refugees.

Romania’s president says there is “no way” his country will accept the extra number of migrants proposed. Romania has been asked to accept 6,351 people. Leaders say that is too much after they initially agreed to accept 1,785. – Guardian service