The respondent in this case was a 39 year old Algerian man who had been in North Macedonia (MNK) since 29th January 2020. The respondent was staying in a camp at the time of the incident and had expressed intent to claim asylum in MNK. Though he had initially applied for asylum in North Macedonia, during his time in the centre in Skopje he decided to make a voluntary return to Algeria through the program run by International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Presenting at the IOM office he had been told by staff he needed to wait until “corona finishes”, and then he would be able to return to Algeria. The staff stated that he would likely be able to travel after the 1st August 2020.
However in late April a fight broke out between residents of the camp, and the respondent was asked to leave the centre. Though not directly involved in the fight, the respondent shared that a group of people were removed by the camp staff, and told that they could no longer stay there.
Describing the actions of the camp director the respondent says “they treat us like racist” and that the order for them to leave was consistent with the “mafia”-like actions of the camp management. He stated that during his stay in the camp, he observed that preferential treatment was given to smugglers and people with money inside the camp, meanwhile those without means were the subject to abuse and lost access to basic things like food. The respondent said that camp staff regularly stole food from the residents.
“Staff [imitates spitting]. They look us like animals”
The respondent states that the camp served pork meat in the canteen and staff replied to those that complained: “eat or leave”. On the 1st May 2020 when the respondent was forced to leave the camp, the director and staff removed his camp card and ordered him to exit the site (this in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown).
“No bus, no food”
The respondent shared that everything was closed due to the pandemic restrictions. He had nowhere to sleep and limited access to basic amenities. He walked for five days, sleeping rough on the roadside. On the 6th May, while around 13km north of Gevgelija the respondent was stopped by two MNK police officers in dark uniforms who drove by in a patrol car.
The police called a further two officers who arrived from Gevgelija with a van. They drove the respondent to the border with Greece. The respondent asked:
“If I go to Greece maybe the police send me to Turkey?”
The respondent went on to say he was scared of this, and what Turkish police might do to him when we was removed there. The officers displayed little concern for this and replied to him:
“I don’t know what’s happening in Greece. It’s your problem”
The police drove him to a section of border fence and expelled him into Greek territory through a gate in the fence close to a railwayline (suggested to be close to Idomeni).
“They showed me the train, opened the door”
Describing the whole incident the respondent stated “we want our rights” and was saddened that “Macedonia don’t give us asylum”. At the time on interview, the respondent was sleeping rough on the streets of Thessaloniki and had not regularization document through fear of being pushed back to Turkey.