“When they got to the border, they opened the gate and they told them to leave. They didn't beat them or do anything bad to them.”

  • Date and time: April 19, 2022 00:00
  • Location: Gevgelija, North Macedonia
  • Coordinates: 41.128387046913, 22.518621133982
  • Pushback from: North Macedonia
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 9 person(s), age: 23 , from: Morocco
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: 11 male police officers in a blue uniform, 1 blue car with the words 'Union Police' on it
  • Taken to a police station?: no
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, photos taken, personal information taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: No
  • Reported by: Anonymous Partner

Original Report

The respondent is a 23-year-old Moroccan man who was pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece on the night of April 19th at around midnight in a group of 9, including one other Moroccan man and seven other men of unknown nationalities. 

The respondent had been pushed back twice before this pushback event; the most recent of which was the morning of the same day. Having been pushed back from North Macedonia to Greece at 3AM on 19th April, the respondent and 3 other Moroccan men once again crossed the border from Greece to North Macedonia near the village of Idomeni, Greece, at 8AM. The respondent did not provide any details on their crossing point into North Macedonia.  

Reportedly, the group of 4 walked approximately 24km until they were stopped by an officer wearing a ‘“blue police uniform” without any visible insignia or flags. At this point, 2 of the group of 4 ran and escaped, while the respondent and his friend, who had injured his foot, were apprehended. 

At this point a second police officer, as described by the respondent, joined them and the respondent and his friend were instructed to sit down and remove their shoes. The officers reportedly took their shoes from them, and instructed them to sit until the car arrived.

After 35 minutes on the ground, the respondent reports that a blue car arrived that had the words ‘Union Police’ written on it. The respondent and his friend were then driven half an hour to “a place next to the border where they took their fingerprints and asked them about their names, took photos of their faces”. The similarity of driving times and procedures carried out here in comparison to previous testimonies suggest that this location was the informal camp Vinojug Temporary Transit Centre in Gevgelija, which was mentioned in the BVMN February 2022 Monthly Report.

The respondent reports that there were 6 more male officers with the same blue uniform at the camp, and approximately 7 other apprehended individuals of unknown nationalities. 

The following procedures took 5 minutes for each person: They took their fingerprints and photos of their faces, and they were asked about their names. They were not offered food or water, however the respondent reports that they did not ask. They also did not ask for asylum, were not searched, and were not asked to sign any documents; the officers “weren’t racist or something”. 

Reportedly, after half an hour, their shoes were given back to them and the respondent and his friend were placed in a van with 7 other men of unknown nationalities. There were 3 officers with the same uniform in the van, one of whom was driving. 

After a drive of approximately 15 minutes they reached the border and the officers told the group of 9 (the respondent, his friend, and the 7 others in the van) to go through.

“They opened the gate and told us to leave, they didn’t beat us or do anything bad to us. There was no violence.”

The group of two then travelled to Thessaloniki.