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Macedonian Police Use Tear Gas On Migrants And Refugees Trapped In Greece

ICE Graveyard 13/04/2016 Danae Leivada
ATHENA IMAGE © Stoyan Nenov / Reuters ATHENA IMAGE

About 50 people stranded in a major camp in the Greek town of Idomeni tried Wednesday to tear down part of a fence guarding the Macedonian border, prompting Macedonian police to fire tear gas at them.

Greek authorities arrested 14 activists after the altercation, according to The New York Times, accusing them of encouraging people in the camp to tear down the fence in an attempt to elicit sympathy from European nations and prompt countries to reopen their borders.

More than 12,000 people are stuck in squalid conditions in the camp, after Macedonia and other Balkan nations closed their borders to newcomers trying to escape war and poor economic conditions in their home nations.

People living in the camp also attempted to storm the border on Sunday, Reuters reports, leading the Macedonian police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets. About 300 people were injured in that altercation, according to The New York Times, and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos called the Macedonian police's actions "unacceptable and reprehensible."

The European Union and Turkey struck a deal last month to stem the migrant flow across the Aegean Sea. Under the agreement, which went into effect on March 20, migrants and refugees arriving in Greece are allowed to apply for asylum, but will be sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim is not accepted. Many people in the Idomeni camp arrived before that date, leaving their fates in limbo.

The thousands of people in the camp are staying put in hopes that the border will open and they will be able to continue their journeys northward. Macedonia has vowed, however, to keep the border shut until at least the end of the year. 

See photos from Wednesday's events below:

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