The respondent aged 27, a Syrian citizen, along with five other persons (two Egyptians, two Tunisians, and a Senegalese person) left on a freight train from the Thessaloniki (Greece) railway station to go to Serbia via North Macedonia. On 10th July 2019 at 12:20, the transit group was successful in boarding a train at the station.
On the same day, at around 13:40, the transit group jumped off the train before the train entered North Macedonia. According to the respondent, they did so because they knew there were three Macedonian police check posts ahead from where the train would have passed and where it would have been checked by the police. The group decided to cross around the police check posts and enter North Macedonia by foot. They carried on their journey by foot and managed to enter Macedonia without being detected. Using hilly tracks through the forest, they reached a rise in the land at approximately 22:00. While getting down from the hill, they saw a couple of tanks and three private cars with five persons. The respondent thinks that one of them was a Macedonian policeman and referred to the four other officers as “commandos”.
When the transit group realized that they had been observed by the authorities, most decided not to run away, but one of the people from the group tried to escape. Noticing that, the officers released a dog on him which caught the escaping person from his leg, forcing him to return to the authorities. The respondent considered the spot of apprehension to have been some 10 kilometers away South West of Gevgelija (MKD).
After that, the transit group were taken to an unknown place in a police van which the respondent said felt like some 20 minutes away from the spot of apprehension. Upon their arrival to the place, they were put in a room until the following day (11th July 2019). In that room, 25 people (23 from India and 2 people from Syria) aged between 20 and 30 were already being held. The people told the respondent that they had been arrested an hour before them. During their detention, the transit group asked for food but were not provided any. Moreover, they also asked the police to let them go as they did not intend to seek asylum in North Macedonia. However, no heed was paid by the police to these requests.
After four hours, the police called a bus and then all the detainees, i.e. approximately 31 persons, were transported by this bus to another building. In that building, they were investigated by the authorities with the help of a translator. All their personal data including name, age and pictures of their eyes were taken. The same day, the officers called the bus again and the transit group was pushed back by the authorities onto the other side of the border from North Macedonia into Greece. According to the respondent the police opened the gate at the border fence and let them go.
The transit group of six managed to take the next freight train and arrived back to Thessaloniki, Greece from where they had left.