Migrants scuffle with police at a barrier on Macedonia's border with Greece, after Macedonia's decision to grant passage only to refugees escaping wars from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Some of the hundreds of migrants stranded in no-man's land on Macedonia-Greece border tried to push their way through a Greek police blockade on Sunday (November 22). Several hundred people were left stranded near Macedonia's border town of Gevgelija last week following the country's decision to grant passage only to refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, deeming those from all other countries of origin "economic migrants" and denying them entry into the country. After waiting for days in a short stretch of no-man's land between Greece and Macedonia, the migrants started protesting on Saturday, gathering at border barriers and chanting "Open borders!", demanding that they be let through. As tensions increased, the pressure of the slowly growing crowd of people erupted in short confrontations on Sunday. Dozens of migrants pushed past a cordon of Greek riot police guarding the barrier marking the exit from Greek territory, only 20-30 metres from the heavily guarded entry point into Macedonia. Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are the three nationalities that make up the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have trekked across the Balkans this year in the hope of reaching western and northern Europe, mainly Germany and Sweden. After Slovenia said it would no longer allow passage to people from other countries last week, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia followed suit, fearing this might lead to a buildup of migrants in their respective countries. The move has left hundreds of migrants from Asia and Africa stranded in Serbia and Macedonia, but while those denied entry into Croatia from Serbia have been taken to an asylum centre, and those on the Macedonia-Greece border are still stuck in no-man's land, hoping they would be allowed to resume their journey. UNHCR, UNICEF and International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued a statement on Friday criticising the newly imposed restrictions in the Balkans, saying that profiling of refugees and migrants on the basis of nationality is creating an increasingly untenable situation.