The immigration crisis in Europe flared up again this past Monday as police forces in Macedonia used tear gas and stun grenades on rioting immigrants.
The altercation between border guards and immigrants was sparked by mounting frustration in immigrant camps, where around 6,500 refugees from North Africa and the Middle East are located.
In a sign of this frustration and anger, the migrants stormed Greek police manning the Greek-Macedonian border, overwhelming the contingent. Chants of, “Open the border!” and, “We want to go to Serbia!” accompanied the mob, which proceeded to demolish a border gate at a nearby rail crossing.
This chaos was put to an end by the effective actions of the Macedonian police, which managed to regain control of the border with no reported arrests or injuries.
The outrage and conflict on Monday was the latest in a series of struggles between the Macedonian government and the tens of thousands of migrants on its borders.
These immigrants are hoping to pass through Macedonia on their way to central and western Europe, where they will try and apply for refugee status.
However, the small Macedonian government has been unable to handle the massive influx of migrants, which has been putting a huge strain on the young government’s resources.
In an effort to regain control over the flow of migrants through the country, the Macedonian government has declared that it will only allow in as many people as Serbia will accept.
This has resulted in a bottleneck in the route to western Europe and this, in turn, has only increased tensions in the region.
Moreover, conditions in refugee camps on the Greek side of the border are poor, at best.
The brief conflict is emblematic of the broader situation in Europe, where the small countries which border Greece and the Middle East have to deal the the brunt of the crisis.
With small, fragile economies as a result of thier former Soviet status, Macedonia and similar states like Serbia, Albania, and Bulgaria are being hit expecially hard by the crisis.
The states lack the experience and stability that western European states like Germany, Austria, France, and Britain have.
To make things worse, these countries are directly on the border with the Greece, which is the entry point for the majority of migrants fleeing the Middle East and North Africa.
This means that the ever-increasing flow of immigrants has to pass through these small states in order to reach the bigger, more capable countries in central and western Europe.
Although the small border states like Macedonia are not being required to house many immigrants themselves, and few immigrants are even intending to stop in these countries, the sheer number of people is still an organizational burden.
The limited governmental infrastructure and poice capabilities in these countries mean crwods of tens of thousands of immigrants can get out of control, as they did on Monday.
This is the reason Macedonia restricted the number of people crossing the border each day.
However this is not an adequate long-term solution: it merely piles more immigrants on the border. A strong EU implementing a strong plan is the only solution.