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Greece-FYROM diplomatic row deepens

Greece-FYROM diplomatic row deepens
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By Catherine Hardy with Reuters
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Hundreds were injured on Sunday after tear gas was fired at migrants

The news

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The situation on the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is under control.

But the atmosphere remains tense.

Tear gas canisters lie all around – a tangible sign of the violent confrontation that took place here on Sunday.

Thousands of migrants and refugees are stranded at the camp here at Idomeni.

Yesterday, their anger boiled over and they stormed the border fence.

Diplomatic outrage is growing

“I would like to say that this is a big shame for European society and for countries that want to be part of that society,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“I am waiting for the European authorities, international organizations and the UNHCR to say something about what happened yesterday,” he added.

Athens says the Macedonian police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades on migrants on the Greek side of the border.

Macedonian officials will only say tear gas was used after the crowds started throwing stones and stormed the fence.

Aid workers say more than 300 people were injured.

They say some were treated for open wounds but the majority were suffering from the effects of breathing in tear gas.

What happened?

Scores of migrants and refugees were wounded on Sunday in a confrontation with Macedonian police on the joint border with Greece.

Athens says police on the Macedonian side of their joint border used tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades to force the crowds back.

In another strong statement, a government spokesperson described the use of force as “unacceptable”.

“We urge the authorities of FYROM to comprehend the potential risks the use of violence against migrants and refugees entails,” said George Kyritsis, the Greek government’s spokesman on migration.

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What FYROM says

A Macedonian police spokesman said the situation at the border is under control but remains tense.

On condition of anonymity, a Macedonian official said a large group of migrants left the Idomeni camp on Sunday morning and tried to storm the border fence.

The authorities will only confirm they used tear gas.

“They threw rocks at the Macedonian police. The police fired tear gas in response,” said the official.

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Police in Skopje say three officers were hurt.

In numbers

  • 300+ people injured (MSF)
  • 30 for rubber bullet injuries
  • 30 for open wounds
  • 200 for breathing difficulties
  • 50,000 refugees stranded in Greece
  • 11,200 at Idomeni
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