“they were wearing a dark blue uniform with flags sewn on it and they were from multiple nationalities”

  • Date and time: July 13, 2019 00:00
  • Location: close to Gevgelija (North Macedonia)
  • Coordinates: 41.142141, 22.499994
  • Push-back from: North Macedonia
  • Push-back to: Greece
  • Demographics: 4 person(s), age: 24-26 (respondent aged 24) , from: Syria
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: Frontex officers (described in text as various nationalities), Greek police officers (station in Polykastro)
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: detention, fingerprints taken, personal information taken
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: Mobile Info Team, Philoxenia

Original Report

On the 13th of July 2019, the respondent attempted to cross the Greek – North Macedonia border with three other people. The group consisted of four men between the ages the ages of 24 and 26 years old. 

The respondent attempted to cross into North Macedonia, however he shared that he was arrested by border control officers while in the process of crossing. When asked to describe the appearance of the officers, the respondent described that:

“they were wearing a dark blue uniform with flags sewn on it and they were from multiple nationalities. I saw a Serbian, a Croatian/French and an Italian flags”.

From the respondent description, it is apparent that the officers he was arrested by were part of Frontex forces. 

The Frontex officers pushed the respondent back from North Macedonia to the Greek city of Polykastro, directly south from Gevgelija (North Macedonia). In Polykastro, Greek police officers demanded six euros per person to purchase train tickets back to Thessaloniki for the group of four. However, the respondent had no money so was unable to pay the officers. The group was then put in a prison cell for two hours, after which they were released in Polykastro.

The transit group then reattempted to cross the Greek – North Macedonia border, walking for 30km along train tracks from the Greek city of Polykastro to the North Macedonian city of Gevgelija. However, as the respondent had a wound on his toe he was unable to continue walking. At this point, the group was apprehended once again by Frontex officials. The Frontex officers took the transit group to a camp near the Macedonian city of Gevgelija. At this camp the officers took the group members names and fingerprints. The respondent explains that he asked for asylum in Macedonia, however the officers told him that he was unable to apply for asylum. After this, the group was pushed back again to Greek territory where the respondent took the train back to the Greek city of Thessaloniki. See map below (Figure 1) for plotted journey, including both pushback points.

(Figure 1: Journey to border marked by black lines, pushback/return route marked by red lines)