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Migrants Protest Restrictions At Macedonian Border

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A migrant sits with his mouth sewn shut during a protest near the village of Idomeni

On Friday migrants who found their passage blocked sat down on railway tracks, hampering trains between Greece and Macedonia. Macedonia, Serbia and Croatia say they took the step to begin filtering the flow after Slovenia, which is part of Europe's Schengen zone of passport-free travel, said it would no longer admit what it called "economic migrants".

According to the reports, the group consists largely of non-Syrian migrants, hailing from countries that Macedonian authorities deem not war-stricken such as Morocco, Algeria, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Bangladesh and others.

About 1,000 people, described by authorities in Skopje as economic migrants, have staged a protest on the border of Greece and Macedonia.

Many migrants hold signs "We won't go back". "Go back where? We don't have a place to go". "Don't be afraid of us". At the same time, nationals of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan transit Macedonia freely.

The protesters are demanding however that they must be allowed to continue their journeys towards Western Europe, primarily to Germany, and have the opportunity to apply for asylum or refugee status.

At least six Iranian men sewed each other's mouths shuts in protest at the new limits on migration and wrote "Iran" and "freedom" on their faces and chests.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said the checkpoint at the country's Gevgelija crossing had "become a bottleneck for migrants and refugees" where "security risks are increasing".

"Our main goal today is to reduce this wave of refugees, not only to east transit".

"What is even more important is that the migrants are arriving in Macedonia from an EU member state", MIA quoted Poposki as telling reporters after the meeting with the foreign ambassadors.

Ivanov also urged for greater resolve and a more responsible approach by the European Council regarding the start of Macedonia's EU accession talks, without treating enlargement as a technical issue.

 

Since the beginning of the crisis, half a million migrants transited through Macedonia and we have received no aid.

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