Overnight police had doubled the barbed wire fence at the border, while some refugees pleaded with them, shouting “Help us!”
Macedonian police tried to portray the decision to let the migrants through as part of a controlled policy to avoid future bottlenecks and violent confrontations, although the move will raise fears that it will simply encourage more.
Thousands of rain-soaked migrants on Saturday rushed past Macedonian riot police who were attempting to block them from enter…
More than 42,000 have gone through Macedonia since mid-June to try to enter the European Union, particularly the countries of the passport-free Schengen area. Many children lost contact with their parents in the tumult and desperately called out for them.
According to the Associated Press, the rush occurred after Macedonian police allowed a small group of migrants with children to cross the border.
Macedonia initially sent extra police to the border region last week to stop any additional migrants from entering the country, saying they had reached their capacity.
Police subsequently seemed to regain control of the situation, stopping the flow of people after hurling a dozen stun grenades in some 30 minutes.
The government had declared a state of emergency and ordered its borders sealed to the migrants. More than 40,000 migrants have arrived in the land-locked country wedged between Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania in the past two months, Kotevski said on Friday.
Thirty-two-year-old Saeed from Syria said of the blocked border: “We know this was not Macedonia and the Macedonian police”.
Responding to criticism, Mr Poposki said: “Macedonia’s definitely not a place where they [migrants and refugees] have been mistreated”.
“They want to separate themselves from the other nationalities; the Pakistanis, the Afghans, the Iraqis…what they say is that all these other nationalities claim to be Syrians as well, because it is the Syrians who have the most valid claim to asylum”.
Both Greece and Macedonia have seen an unprecedented wave of refugees this year.
More than 5,000 refugees have been able to board trains and buses to Serbia and northern Europe, ending their ordeal in makeshift camps on the border between Greece and Macedonia. Some 50,000 hit Greek shores by boat from Turkey in July alone. “We sit here, we sleep here – no food, no water, nothing”, said another man.
It takes around four hours by train to reach Tabanovce on Macedonia’s northern border with Serbia, some 180 kilometres (110 miles) away.
Conservative prime minister Nikola Gruevski, on the ropes for much of 2015 over a surveillance scandal, faces an early election next April and may win praise at home for taking a hard line on Greece for allowing the migrants through.
Separately, Italy’s coast guard said it coordinated the rescue of some 4,400 people off Libya’s coast Saturday, the largest number so far in a single day.