Athens, April 11, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
Serious incidents erupted Sunday when FYROM police threw tear gas and stun grenades at the refugees camp in Idomeni.
According to reports, the incidents started when refugees tried to throw down the fence and cross the Greek – FYROM border.
FYROM police responded with tear gas and stun grenades that fell in Greek territory, while refugees threw toward the police stones and other objects.
Then FYROM policemen crossed the fence and began firing rubber bullets at refugees. According to the Ministry of Defence, the FYROM policemen did not cross into Greek territory.
As reported by Doctors Without Borders, refugees were injured by rubber bullets, while others face respiratory problems.
“Most of the cases associated with respiratory problems were caused by the use of chemicals, but we also have some injuries, which show us that rubber bullets were used”, said for AMNA a member of the organisation, stating that no serious injuries were recorded, although in two or three cases the persons had to be taken to the hospital with by ambulance.
On Saturday strangers handed out brochures written in Arabic inviting refugees to cross the borders in numbers.
Early Sunday morning, hundreds of refugees had begun to gather to the railway line in the neutral zone between Greece and FYROM.
Tensions rose at around 11:30 in the morning when a five-member delegation moved to the fence, on the FYROM side and attempted to negotiate with the police authorities of the country in order to allow them to cross the border and continue their journey.
As there was no response to the request, approximately 500 refugees moved towards the fence, on the outside of the railway lines, to protest, while on its part the FYROM police launched tear gas.
“The use of chemical, rubber bullets and stun grenades by the FYROM forces, without discrimination between vulnerable populations, and what’s more without force majeure, is a dangerous and reprehensible practice”, says the spokesman of Coordination Body for the Refugee crisis, Giorgos Kyritsis.
“We urge the FYROM authorities to understand the potential risks from the use of force against refugees and immigrants. We also call on the refugees not to believe rumors and false information spread by strangers with criminal irresponsibility, and to cooperate with the Greek authorities to guarantee their safe movement at organized temporary accommodation spaces”, Kyritsis says.
“Today’s violence actions of the Security Forces of Skopje against refugees and immigrants, who were in Greek territory, are a dangerous event. We strongly condemn them”, said the spokesman of ND Giorgos Koumoutsakos.
“The very disturbing events in Idomeni, which had essentially been pre-announced, reveal the complete absence of the Greek state from a part of the greek land.
Where is the Department of Migration Policy? Where is the Ministry of Citizen Protection? Where is the Ministry of Defence? Where is the Foreign Ministry? Where is the Government? Is there one?”, he concluded.
“The new episodes in Idomeni, what’s more with the FYROM forces involvement, should finally sound the alarm for the government. They warn that if they continue their blissful sleep and do not react they will be responsible for the uncontrollable situations that will follow”, said The River.
“The extreme elements of each side, along with the mafias of all kinds, will continue to use Idomeni as the scene of an appalling performance, which however leaves them profits. The victims in each case are the local residents and the refugees who are bled dry by the mafias, continues The River, to conclude that “Idomeni and Piraeus must stop “being advertised” in European newspapers as “the favelas of Europe”. We call on Mr. Tsipras to change his theory. The problems when not solved are not dulled as he thinks, on the contrary they rot and spread”, concludes The River.
“The total lack of planning in the refugee issue, and especially the issue of Idomeni, results in these sad images of refugees. While some find fertile ground and exert political pressure in all directions. We want the implementation of the european agreements because this is the only way to address this major problem”, said the spokesman of the Union of Centrists Yannis Kallianos.