Police used batons to beat back migrants and refugees who gathered on the border of Macedonia in the pouring rain on Saturday with hopes of crossing into the country from Greece. The incident occurred just days after Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said the country would increase security at its border.
Video from the scene at a no man's land near the Greece-Macedonia border showed one officer clubbing people seemingly indiscriminately. Several children could be seen crying as they looked on at the violence.
"We too will need some kind of physical defense to reduce illegal border crossing... Either soldiers or a fence or a combination of the two," Poposki told the Hungarian business weekly Figyelo on Thursday. Hungary's parliament has discussed the possibility of sending up to 3,500 soldiers to its border with Serbia.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was sending pre-fabricated homes to Hungary that could accommodate up to 300 people. On Friday, Hungary's exasperated prime minister accused migrants of "rebelling."
According to local news reports, 7,600 people — mostly Syrian refugees — crossed into Macedonia during a 24-hour period earlier this week. That was in addition to another 10,000 individuals, about 40 percent women and children, who were registered entering the country the week before.
On Friday, the International Organization for Migration told Reuters some 433,000 refugees had crossed into Europe this year — more than double the amount that arrived in all of last year.
According to a UN official, many more are expected. Peter Salama, UNICEF's Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said "There could be millions and millions more refugees leaving Syria and ultimately to the European Union and beyond."
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