Macedonian riot police beat migrants Friday with truncheons and riot shields and fired stun grenades as thousands of mostly Syrian refugees tried to enter the country from Greece.
At least seven people were injured in the clashes as the refugees ran for cover when police fired grenades. The French news agency AFP said that at least one boy had his face covered in blood.
Nearly 3,000 people have been stranded on the Greek border after the Macedonian authorities declared a state of emergency Thursday and closed off its border with Greece.
But after Friday's clashes, the Macedonian Interior Ministry said Friday it would allow a "limited number of illegal migrants in vulnerable categories to enter Macedonia and they may be provided aid in accordance with the state's capacities."
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Some 500 refugees were able to cross the border, mostly families with children and pregnant women.
According to reports, around 44,000 people have traveled through Macedonia in the past two months, encountering little border resistance. In order to counter the surge in border crossings, Macedonia has sealed its frontier with Greece with razor wire to prevent people from entering the country.
Meanwhile, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concern over the condition of the refugees stranded in the no-man's land between Greece and Macedonia.
A mess at the Greek-Macedonia border. UNHCR calls for borders to stay open and EU to back countries facing the flow. http://t.co/pekOULehDA— Leo Dobbs (@LDUNHCR) August 21, 201
“While understanding the pressures facing FYROM [former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] and legitimate security concerns, UNHCR appeals to the government to put in place mechanisms necessary to establish an orderly and protection-sensitive management of its borders,” the UNHCR said in a statement Friday. “In particular, we encourage the government to work with UNHCR to establish sufficient reception capacity in the country as well as organized registration and identification.”
The U.N. agency also said that after talks with the foreign minister of Macedonia, it was reassured that the border would not be closed again.
The figures from the U.N. indicated Thursday that last week alone over 20,800 people fleeing the conflict in Syria arrived in Greece.