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Sunday, 23 August 2015

At the Border

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#Macedonia - Woman looks up at police blocking migrants trying to cross Macedonian-Greek border #AFP Photo by RAtanasovski #AFP: image via Sophie Chauveau @s_chauveauAFP, 22 August 2015

Migrants cross unhindered into Macedonia; trains, busses await: Fatos Bytyci, Reuters, 22 August 2015

GEVGELIJA, Macedonia -- Hundreds of migrants crossed unhindered from Greece into Macedonia on Sunday after overwhelmed security forces appeared to abandon a bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe following days of chaos and confrontation.

Riot police remained, but did little to slow the passage of a steady stream of migrants, many of them refugees from the Syrian war and other conflicts in the Middle East, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Macedonia had declared a state of emergency on Thursday and sealed its southern frontier to migrants pouring in at a rate of 2,000 per day en route to Serbia then Hungary and the Europe Union's borderless Schengen zone.

That led to desperate scenes at the border, as men, women and children slept under open skies with little access to food or water.

Saying they would ration access, riot police used tear gas and stun grenades to drive back crowds, but were overwhelmed on Saturday by several thousand who tore through police lines or ran through nearby empty fields.

The state eventually laid on extra trains, and buses arrived from across the country to take the migrants swiftly north to Serbia and the next step of a long journey from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

"I watched the news on TV and I was astonished," said Abdullah Bilal, 41, from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.

"I thought I would face the same when I arrive here. But it was very peaceful. The Macedonian police told us 'Welcome to Macedonia; trains and buses are waiting for you.'"
Mohannad Albayati, 35, from Damascus, traveling with his wife, two children and three brothers, said: "I passed one step but it is a long road to my destination. With Allah's help I will go to Germany."

The backlog created in Macedonia, which faces criticism from aid agencies for not expanding capacity to receive and process the migrants, reached Serbia overnight, straining the country's own ad hoc reception centers.

"Last night after midnight the first group of 200 people crossed the border," said a Serbian government official who declined to be named.

"So far we have more than 5,000 new arrivals. This is the biggest number in one day so far. They are waiting in long lines as we process them."

Macedonia has accused neighboring Greece, with which it enjoys a tense relationship, of aiding the migrants' journey north at a pace the Balkan country says it cannot cope with.

Greece has begun chartering boats to take migrants from inundated Greek islands to the mainland, after a record 50,000 hit Greek shores by boat from Turkey in July alone.



Police officers stopped a migrant and his child from crossing the border into Macedonia from Greece near Gevgelija, Macedonia, on Saturday. But hundreds of rain-soaked migrants rushed past officers who lobbed stun grenades and beat them with batons, struggling to enforce a decree to stem their flow to western Europe.: photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters, 22 August 2015


Migrants talked to the police as they tried to cross from Greece into Macedonia: photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters, 22 August 2015


Five #migrants hurt in clashes at Greek-Macedonian border. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis:: image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 21 August 2015


#Macedonia - Police are seen as migrant and refugee families try to cross Macedonian-Greek border.  Photo by RAtanasovski #AFP: image via Sophie Chauveau @s_chauveauAFP, 22 August 2015
 

Migrants trying to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21. #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Migrants trying to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21. #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Migrants wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near Idomeni, northern Greece today. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015
 

Migrants waiting at the Greek-Macedonian in Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 22. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Migrants waiting at the Greek-Macedonian in Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 22. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Migrants waiting at the Greek-Macedonian in Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 22. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015
 

Migrants waiting at the Greek Macedonian in Idomeni, northern Greece, on August 22. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015
 

A Syrian refugee holds up a sign as he and others wait at the Macedonian-Greek in Gevgelija #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Refugees and migrants wait in no-man's land along the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija.  #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


Refugees and migrants wait in no-man's land along the Macedonian-Greek border near Gevgelija.  #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015
 

Macedonia declares 'state of emergency' over #migrant influx.Photo by RAtanasovski #AFP: image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 21 August 2015

Najat Abdul Samad: When I Am Overcome by Weakness

When I am overcome by weakness, I bandage my heart with a woman’s patience in adversity. I bandage it with the upright posture of a Syrian woman who is not bent by bereavement, poverty, or displacement as she rises from the banquets of death and carries on shepherding life’s rituals. She prepares for a creeping, ravenous winter and gathers the heavy firewood branches, stick by stick from the frigid wilderness. She does not cut a tree, does not steal, does not surrender her soul to weariness, does not ask anyone’s charity, does not fold with the load, and does not yield midway.

I bandage my heart with the determination of that boy they hit with an electric stick on his only kidney until he urinated blood. Yet he returned and walked in the next demonstration.

I bandage it with the steadiness of a child’s steps in the snow of a refugee camp, a child wearing a small black shoe on one foot and a large blue sandal on the other, wandering off and singing to butterflies flying in the sunny skies, butterflies and skies seen only by his eyes.

I bandage it with December’s frozen tree roots, trees that have sworn to blossom in March or April.

I bandage it with the voice of reason that was not affected by a proximate desolation.

I bandage it with veins whose warm blood has not yet been spilled on the surface of our sacred soil.

I bandage it with what was entrusted by our martyrs, with the conscience of the living, and with the image of a beautiful homeland envisioned by the eyes of the poor.

I bandage it with the outcry: “Death and not humiliation.”
 
Najat Abdul Samad: When I Am Overcome By Weakness, translated by Ghada Alatrash, 2013



An injured boy after crossing the border into Macedonia: photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters, 22 August 2015
 

Hundreds of #migrants force their way over Macedonia border. Photo by @RAtanasovski #AFP : image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 22 August 2015

 
Migrants trying to cross the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija on August 21. #AFP Photo by @RAtanasovski: image via Aurelia BAILLY @AureliaBAILLY, 22 August 2015


A Macedonian police officer held a baby as other refugees tried to get past: photo by Georgi Licovski/European Pressphoto Agency, 22 August 2015
 

The Macedonian security forces managed to contain hundreds of migrants, but hundreds more tore through muddy fields into Macedonian territory after days in the open without shelter, food or water: photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters, 22 August 2015


A migrant tries to pass a fence near to the town of Idomeni, on the Greece-Macedonia border. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis:: image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 22 August 2015
 

Hundreds of #migrants force their way over Macedonia border. Photo by @RAtanasovski #AFP : image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 22 August 2015


 #Macedonia allows all 1,500 migrants at border to enter from Greece: image via Agence France-Presse @AFP, 22 August 2015


#Migrants push an elderly woman in wheel chair near train tracks at Greek-Macedonian border. #AFP Photo by Sakis Mitrolidis:: image via AFP Photo Department @AFPphoto, 22 August 2015
 

Migrants talked to the police as they tried to cross from Greece into Macedonia: photo by Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters, 22 August 2015
 

4 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

What I see here is courage and a great drive for life. The British press doesn't seem to be picking up on that. They're busy burying hearts; all out of elastoplasts.

VINCENT FARNSWORTH said...

These are refugees from all the destabilization-fallout from Bush's war on Iraq. It's the USA that should be taking them in.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Who brought this to pass?
Who has brought the flaming imperial anger?
Who has brought the army with drums and with kettle-drums?
Barbarous kings.
A gracious spring, turned to blood-ravenous autumn,
A turmoil of wars-men, spread over the middle kingdom,
Three hunder and sixty thousand,
And sorrow, sorrow like rain.

-- EP, "Lament of the Frontier Guard"

TC said...

Hear, Hear.