Macedonia police fire teargas at migrants while Europe bickers

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Tensions at the Greece- Macedonia border
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Macedonia police fire teargas at migrants while Europe bickers
Refugees walk past tents near the Greek-Macedonian border, in the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Some 7,000 migrants, including many from Syria and Iraq, are crammed into a tiny camp at the Greek border village of Idomeni, and hundreds more are arriving daily. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants, who entered Macedonia from Greece illegally, walk between the two lines of the protective fence along the border line, near southern Macedonia's town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A woman carries a child on the Greek side of the border as they run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A woman holds her children on the Greek side of the border as they run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A refugee carries a large branch as he walks through tents in the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Some 7,000 migrants, including many from Syria and Iraq, are crammed into a tiny camp at the Greek border village of Idomeni, and hundreds more are arriving daily. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants wait to receive food distributed by non-governmental organization at the Greek-Macedonian border, in the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Some 7,000 migrants, including many from Syria and Iraq, are crammed into a tiny camp at the Greek border village of Idomeni, and hundreds more are arriving daily. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A girl wearing a plastic rain poncho walks as refugees and migrants wait to receive food distributed by non-governmental organization at the Greek-Macedonian border, in the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Some 7,000 migrants, including many from Syria and Iraq, are crammed into a tiny camp at the Greek border village of Idomeni, and hundreds more are arriving daily. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Migrants wait in line for food handouts, in Athens, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, at the Victoria Square, where most newly-landed migrants head after reaching the greek capital from the Aegean Sea islands. Border restrictions further north in the Balkans have left thousands of refugees and other migrants stranded in a country that is still wracked by its own financial crisis and unable to seal its lengthy sea border with Turkey.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A boy of a migrant family sleeps on the pavement, in Athens, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, at the Victoria Square, where most newly-landed migrants head after reaching the Greek capital from the Aegean Sea islands. Border restrictions further north in the Balkans have left thousands of refugees and other migrants stranded in a country that is still wracked by its own financial crisis and unable to seal its lengthy sea border with Turkey.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Refugees and migrants who entered Macedonia illegally and were detained by the police, wait to be returned to Greece at a checkpoint on the border line near southern Macedonia's town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Refugees and migrants run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing.(AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Refugees and migrants try to break an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian police stand guard, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A woman is helped by other refugees and migrants during a protest in front of an iron fence at the Greek-Macedonian border near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A man repairs an iron fence as refugees and migrants sit on the Greek side of the border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
People run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A Syrian young woman leans on the door through which refugees cross for Macedonia in the Greek border station of Idomeni, Sunday Feb. 28, 2016. More than 5500 refugees and migrants are stuck at the Greek-Macedonian border. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants on the Greek side of the border run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of people who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A woman cries as refugees and migrants protest in front of the border gate that separates Greece with Macedonia near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants wait to receive food distributed by non-governmental organization at the Greek-Macedonian border, in the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Border restrictions further north in the Balkans have left thousands of refugees and other migrants stranded in a country that is still wracked by its own financial crisis and unable to seal its lengthy sea border with Turkey. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and Migrants try to brake down a border gate that separates Greece with Macedonia near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Afghanis arrive at a warehouse, which is used as a shelter for refugees and migrants at the Athens' port of Piraeus, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Border restrictions further north in the Balkans have left thousands of refugees and other migrants stranded in a country that is still wracked by its own financial crisis and unable to seal its lengthy sea border with Turkey. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A man helps children to run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stranded refugees and migrants break an iron fence and throw stones from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian policemen use tear gas, near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Stranded refugees and migrants try to break an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian policemen use their shields, near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Refugees run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Austrian policemen watch stranded refugees and migrants trying to break an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian policemen push them back, near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A migrant tries to broke an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian police stand guard, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Stranded refugees and migrants shout slogans and try to break an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian policemen use their shields, near the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
Refugees and migrants break through the Greek police cordon as they try to approach the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonian police fired tear gas and stun guns Monday as several hundred Iraqi and Syrian refugees, frustrated at days of delays in crossing the Greek-Macedonian border, broke down a gate on a nearby rail crossing. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Refugees and migrants try to break an iron fence from the Greek side of the border as Macedonian police stand guard, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
In this photo taken from the Macedonian side stranded refugees and migrants in the northern Greek village of Idomeni approach the Greek-Macedonian border as they try to enter Macedonia on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Macedonia is restricting the entry of refugees to match the number of those leaving the country, allowing in only refugees from Syria and Iraq, in response to bottlenecks further up along the Balkans migrant route. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
A woman uses her cell phone outside an old warehouse after her arrival with other refugees and migrants from the eastern Greek islands at the Athens' port of Piraeus, on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. Greece is fast becoming the "warehouse of human beings" that its government has vowed to not allow. Border restrictions further north in the Balkans have left thousands of refugees and other migrants stranded in a country that is still wracked by its own financial crisis and unable to seal its lengthy sea border with Turkey. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A woman holds her children on the Greek side of the border as they run away after Macedonian police fired tear gas at a group of the refugees and migrants who tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate near the northern Greek village of Idomeni on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. No arrests or injuries were reported. About 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north, but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Refugees, one on a wheelchair, sit next to a makeshift fire near the border crossing in front to a wire fence that separates the Greek side from the Macedonian one at the northern Greek border station of Idomeni, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. More than 6,000 migrants and refugees are stuck in the border after neighbor Macedonia began slowing the number of crossings heading to central and northern Europe. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
KILKIS, GREECE - FEBRUARY 29: Refugees wait at the Greece-Macedonia border in Kilkis, Greece, on February 29, 2016. (Photo by Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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IDOMENI/ATHENS, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Macedonian police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of migrants who stormed the border from Greece on Monday as a deeply divided Europe traded barbs over the biggest humanitarian crisis in decades.

As frustrations boiled over at restrictions imposed on people moving through the Balkans, migrants trapped on the Greece-Macedonia border tore down a metal gate in the barbed wire fence.

A Reuters witness said Macedonian police fired several rounds of teargas into the crowd and onto a railway line where other migrants sat refusing to move, demanding to cross into the country.

Greece raced to set up temporary accommodation for a build-up of thousands of migrants stranded in the country after Austria and countries along the Balkans migration route imposed restrictions on their borders, limiting the number of migrants able to cross.

Many of the migrants, fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, hope to reach Germany, which last year took in 1.1 million asylum seekers.

There were an estimated 22,000 migrants and refugees trapped in Greece on Monday, some sleeping rough in central Athens, some in an abandoned airport and at the 2004 Olympic Games venues.

Greece's migration minister said without any outlet, that figure could rise as high as 70,000 in coming days.

More than 1 million migrants passed through the country last year, prompting criticism from other European nations that Athens was simply waving them through.

"These people do not want to stay here," said Thodoris Dritsas, Greece's shipping minister. "Even if we had a system in place for them to stay here permanently it wouldn't work."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, facing the biggest test of her decade in power, on Sunday defended the country's open-door policy for migrants, rejecting any limit on the number of refugees it allowed in despite divisions within the government over the issue.

"It is my damn duty to do everything I can so that Europe finds a collective way," she told state broadcaster ARD.

That way was lacking on Monday, however, a week before European Union leaders meet with officials from Turkey to discuss how it can help stem the flow of migrants from its shores.

In an increasingly shrill debate, Austria's defense minister suggested Merkel take in all those who were stranded in Greece.

"The German chancellor ... said that formally there is no upper limit in Germany. Then, I would invite her to take the people, who arrive in Greece now and whom she wants to take care of, directly to Germany," Hans Peter Doskozil told Austria's Oe1 radio.

TENT COMMUNITY

Thousands of people have been gathering at Idomeni, the small frontier community on Greece's border with Macedonia, for days. Hundreds of tents were pitched in soggy fields on Monday and there were reports that fights had broken out among families over tents, which were in short supply.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said that there was a problem with "shifting in responsibility" and shifting the problem to the next border.

"Frustration has accumulated because for several days some of these people have been blocked at the Greek border," he told Reuters.

Nearly 100 foreign police officers - from countries including Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria - were deployed in Macedonia, he said, adding the figure could go up to 350.

In a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, he said that "encouraging" cooperation had been established with Greece on the issue but that it may not be enough.

On Monday, a crush developed along the frontier after rumors spread that Macedonian authorities had opened the border. Crowds gathered at the razor wire fence then used a heavy metal pole to bring down a gate. At least two people collapsed in the crush and after teargas was fired at them, Reuters television images showed.

Aid agencies said the border was opening with Macedonia intermittently, with about 7,000 people gathered in the area.

People were also being sent back for apparent discrepancies between registration documents they received from Greek authorities and their own travel documents, witnesses said.

"There are people who have been here for as long as 10 days," said Gemma Gillie of aid agency Medicins Sans Frontieres. "Things are really stretched to the limit." (Reporting By Alexandros Avramidis in Idomeni, Lefteris Karagiannopoulos in Athens, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Kirsti Knolle in Vienna; Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Macedonia Police Fire Tear Gas at Migrants

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