Thousands of migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn Syria are hiding in woods on the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), in the hope of slipping past sentries and making their way to Northern and Western Europe through the small Balkan nation, volunteers with the Doctors of the World branch in the area have told Kathimerini.
The organization has also accused FYROM border authorities of pushing back into Greece, often violently, migrants and asylum seekers who make it across.
“They do not check to see whether they are refugees, families with children – they just force them back,” said one Doctors of the World volunteer who declined to be named.
According to Skopje-based newspaper Dnevnik, some 2,000 refugees have been pushed back to Greece in the past few days, in violation of laws requiring authorities to examine every entry application and provide asylum to refugees.
The same report also suggested that border patrols in FYROM were boosted after Hungary announced that it would seal its border to stop the inflow of migrants.
According to the UN, at least 26 people have died on the so-called Balkan crossing when following train tracks this past winter.