Refugees from Greece camp cross into Macedonia

Thousands march out of Idomeni, where 12,000 have been trapped in filthy conditions owing to closure of Macedonia route.

    More than a thousand people have reached the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia after leaving an overflowing refugee camp near the northern Greek border.

    The group arrived in Moine, 5km inside Macedonia, on Monday, according to the Macedonian television station TV Sitel.

    The refugees marched away earlier from the tent city near Idomeni, where at least 12,000 people have been stranded in filthy conditions since Macedonia and other nations blocked their route north along the so-called Western Balkan route.

    Images from the border showed hundreds of refugees wading through a narrow river stream to reach Macedonia.

    Later, a second group of 500 refugees set off from Idomeni to follow them.

    READ MORE: The booming fake passport market for refugees in Athens

    They were trying to find a gap in the barbed-wire fence that Macedonia has built along its border to deter the refugees, many of whom come from warzones in Syria and Iraq.

    They want to head north to wealthier European Union nations such as Germany.

    Late on Monday, police in Macedonia said they would take steps to return the refugees to Greece.

    "Police and army have heightened security on the border at critical points," the Macedonian police spokesperson said.

    She said she believed "several hundred" people had crossed the border, lower than an estimate of 2,000 made by a Reuters photographer earlier.

    Long cavalcade

    Heading west from the camp in a long, snaking cavalcade along muddy paths, the refugees, wearing coats and hats, carried their belongings in rucksacks and bags.

    The group included many children, some walking, others on strollers.

    Ai Weiwei: Europe is not giving refugees dignity or love

    Some of the refugees made victory signs as they walked along.

    There was no sign of police following the refugees.

    When they reached Crna Reka river, the refugees passed a rope across it and formed a "human chain" to cross.

    Several people carried children across on their shoulders.

    After crossing the Crna Reka near the village of Hamilo, the refugees reached the border fence and walked along it trying to find a way through into Macedonia.

    Earlier, Macedonian police said two men and a woman drowned while trying to cross a river close to the Greek border that had been swollen by heavy rain.

    Greece has stepped up efforts to move thousands of refugees near the Macedonian border to sheltered camps amid fears about the spread of infectious diseases.

    EU leaders and Turkey are due to meet again on Thursday and Friday to seal a deal to try to check the refugee flow from Turkey to Europe through Greece.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    We explore how Salah Ed-Din unified the Muslim states and recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem from the crusaders.