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800 Refugees Try to Cross from Greece to FYROM

An Afghan refugee passes under a fence as he tries to enter Macedonia at the Greek-Macedonia borderline near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. Greece's government warned Monday it expected a growing number of stranded migrants and asylum seekers after neighbor Macedonia further restricted border access at the weekend. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
About 800 migrants tried to illegally cross from Greece to FYROM in the past 48 hours, according to media reports from the latter.
FYROM media say that the migrants tried to enter the country from several points of the fence but they were stopped by police and sent back to Greece. The reports noted that Greece’s neighbor has beefed up border patrols and notified Greek authorities about the illegal activities of migrant smugglers.
Migrants and refugees remain at the Idomeni makeshift camp, refusing to leave, despite the Greek authorities’ efforts to convince them that the border will not open.
On Thursday, about 100 refugees and migrants gathered outside the facility of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to protest. Then they moved toward the fence and shouted slogans about opening the border. Greek police intervened and pushed them away.
Greek authorities have not been able to evacuate the Idomeni camp and persuade migrants to move to official refugee camps. Deputy Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said that the Idomeni camp should be dismantled and people should move to better facilities, but has not specified how this will be achieved.
“We are creating the conditions so that we can evacuate the Idomeni camp without the use of force,” he said. He also noted that there are people who refuse to leave for their own reasons and those “will face the consequences.”
Mouzalas denied reports that those who insist to stay at Idomeni will not have their permits renewed. “The exact opposite is true,” he told reporters. “The documents those people [at Idomeni] possess, have expired for 70% of them. This means their papers have no value. We tell them that if they come to the camps, their papers will be automatically renewed. The difference is that we don’t threaten them, we give them a chance to be legal. If they go to the camps, their documents will be in effect again. This is a gift we offer them, not a threat.”

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