Migrants in mass brawl at camp on the Greek-Macedonian border as fears grow of disease epidemics

Migrants stranded in Greece turned on each other yesterday as hopes faded that they will ever be allowed to continue their journeys into Europe.

As frustrations boiled over at a tented city on the Macedonian border, Slovenia announced new measures that will effectively close the main migration route westward from the Balkans. From today, it will not let anyone in unless they have a valid EU visa.

Neighbouring Serbia said that as a result it would close its borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria for migrants who do not have visas.

It means that the 15,000 marooned in squalor near the village of Idomeni will not be allowed to proceed north toward Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria.

Many there have been waiting for two weeks or more to be among the small number let through each day. But no one had been allowed to cross since 6am on Monday.

The mood was grim among those at the front of the queue on Tuesday, with scuffles breaking out among groups of men. Dozens spent the night crammed into a large tent beside the gate as a thunderstorm broke around them.

‘We are going to remain here, it is impossible for us to return to Turkey because we have nothing left to sustain us to go back to Turkey,’ said Ali Aboud, from Syria.

It comes as Slovenia said access to the country will now only be granted to ‘foreigners meeting  the requirements to enter the country’, those wishing to claim asylum, and migrants selected ‘on a case by case basis on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with the rules of the Schengen zone’, a statement from the interior ministry said.

In a bid to shut off the Balkan migrant route once and for all, Serbia said it would ‘align all measures’ with the fellow Balkan country saying it ‘cannot accept becoming a reception centre for refugees’.

Meanwhile, Disease control experts were sent to the Idomeni camp to help a large number of children and pregnant women in desperate need of medical attention

Two mobile units from Greece’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention began operating on Tuesday in Idomeni, where the migrants are stranded in slum-like conditions.

But they have vowed to keep trying to cross despite a build-up of rubbish and pools of filthy, stagnant water around them and being forced to scavenge for food. MailOnline found one family heating up grass to feed to their children.

Aid workers overrun by desperate families say an outbreak of diarrhoea has left children seriously ill with limited medical facilities on site.

‘We will stay here even if we all die,’ said Kadriya Jasem, a 25-year-old from Aleppo in Syria as she held a four-month-old baby in her arms who she said needed a doctor. ‘Please open the border, if only for the children,’ she wailed.

Announcing the deployment of the disease experts, Yiannis Baskozos, general secretary of Greece’s Health Ministry, warned there was ‘a large number of children, young women and pregnant women that require attention’ at the camp.

He said: ‘At this time we do not have any cases of concern (of disease outbreak). There is always that danger and we are monitoring this possibility. But there is no reason to panic.’

Tempers boiled over earlier today, however, when a fight broke out between a group of migrant men, some of them brandishing sticks. Pictures showed one man curled up in a ball on the ground as others scuffled around him.

Aid workers struggling to feed and care say the situation is becoming explosive as hundreds more arrive each day.

Tempers are frayed and attacks among each other and on refugee workers no longer uncommon.

At one point, MailOnline reporters had to flee a special tent playing cartoons for children when violence broke out between women who screamed and attacked each other.


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