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Migrants stage protest at Greece-Macedonia border

Published 21/11/2015

Migrants and refugees stage a protest demanding to be allowed to cross the borderline to Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni (AP)
Migrants and refugees stage a protest demanding to be allowed to cross the borderline to Macedonia, near the Greek village of Idomeni (AP)

Around 1,300 migrants have staged a protest in the Greek town of Idomeni against the decision by Macedonian authorities to turn away people who are not fleeing from war zones such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most of the protesters are from Morocco, but some were also from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Congo.

They demanded to be allowed into Macedonia, with an undetermined number having gone on hunger strike.

Greek police gathered at the border but the protest has been peaceful. By early afternoon, most protesters had withdrawn from the border and set up tents a short distance away.

A few set up their tents along the border and continued blocking the railway line between Greece and Macedonia for a third day.

Macedonian authorities took the decision to exclude migrants from non-war countries earlier this week following similar action by Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. The excluded migrants have been camping in Idomeni for three days.

A banner, produced by the Moroccans, read: "We are sorry France, but we are not danger (sic) people. We need peace and a good life."

Greece's deputy interior minister, Yiannis Mouzalas, visited Idomeni and said authorities would offer free bus travel back to Athens to those who were refused entry into Macedonia.

He said prime minister Alexis Tsipras will hold a meeting with Greek officials about the issue later on Saturday.

A technical glitch on the Macedonian side allowed only 1,250 people to cross into that country in the 24 hours up to early Saturday morning, Greek police said.

At least another 3,000 had crossed by 11am GMT, with even more arriving later.

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