Greek police patrolling the country’s northern border clashed Tuesday with several hundred migrants — many of them fleeing war in Syria — who have been blocked from crossing into Macedonia.
Thousands of others encamped near the village of Idomeni ignored government orders to move into temporary shelters, as protests continue to mount against a European crackdown on the flow of migrants from the Middle East and South Asia.
Protesting migrants have been blocking area railway tracks for days, demanding access to Macedonia and elsewhere in the Balkans on a push into Western Europe in pursuit of peace and prosperity.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Interior Ministry released data Tuesday showing the number of migrants rescued in Italian maritime operations has risen sharply in the first quarter of this year, from the same period a year ago. Coast Guard figures show more than 16,000 migrants rescued at sea between Libya and Sicily this year, compared to just over 10,000 rescues in 2015.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the European Union said the number of migrants leaving Turkey for the West has dropped sharply in the past week, as the 28-nation EU works with Turkey to implement a return plan for migrants who do not qualify for asylum.
Under the deal, which is awaiting implementation, Turkey has agreed to stop the westward migrant flow and take back all people from Greece who do not meet EU entry requirements.
(Archive photo: Migrants trudge toward a makeshift refugee camp in the northern Greek border station of Idomeni. Jamie Dettmer/VOA)