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Macedonia Allows Some Refugees Across Border, Halts Others

Migrants queue to continue their journey north at a newly built registration and transit center near Gevgelija, Macedonia, on Sunday. More than 5,000 migrants crossed into Serbia on Sunday, resuming a journey to western Europe after an overwhelmed Macedonia gave up its attempts to stem the flow of mainly Syrian refugees by force.

A day after storming past border checkpoints aimed at keeping them out of the European Union, thousands of migrants — most from Syria, but also some from Iraq and Afghanistan — crowded buses in Macedonia heading north toward the Serbian border.

Most of them are hoping to travel via Hungary into northern Europe.

The Guardian reports that border guards who had tried to push them back with batons on Saturday, a day later "appeared to abandon a bid to stem their flow through the Balkans to western Europe following days of chaos and confrontation."

Macedonia on Thursday declared a state of emergency and sealed its borders to stem the tide of migrants crossing through its territory at a rate of some 2,000 a day.

According to the Guardian: "This led to desperate scenes at the border, as adults and children slept under open skies with little access to food or water."

Joanna Kakissis, reporting from the border area for NPR, tells our Newscast Unit: "It's a terrible situation. I was walking earlier with one family to one border, to one checkpoint, and they didn't let them through even though they'd let other people through five minutes earlier. And, the woman I was with just burst into tears, saying 'I'm so tired, I'm so tired, why can't I cross? Please let me cross.' And the police said 'I'm finished with you. Go back.' She just broke down crying and her 8-year-old child had to help her get up."

The BBC reports:

"Macedonia reopened its border with Greece overnight after a stand-off lasting several days.

"Some migrants had managed to force their way through despite the closure, clambering over barbed wire fences, but others were blocked by police using stun grenades.

"Many, including pregnant women and small children, camped out in the open as they waited, with little access to food or water."

The Wall Street Journal adds:

"A number of EU member states, such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, stepped up border controls. This week, Hungary said it would deploy "border hunters" at its frontier with Serbia to stem illegal crossings, and is building a fence on the same border to stop migrants.

"Migrants, largely from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, take small boats and dinghies from Turkey to Greek islands, such as Kos and Lesvos. After reaching Greek mainland, they take buses to its northern region of Thessaloniki. From there, they attempt to cross the Balkan countries to reach Northern Europe."

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