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Desperate refugees stuck in Greece call for Merkel's help

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Refugees try to break through the Greek-Macedonia border. Photo: DPA
09:51 CET+01:00
Frustrated refugees stranded in Greece tried to storm the border to Macedonia on Monday, with many calling for Chancellor Angela Merkel to help them.

“Merkel where are you? Merkel help us!” the refugees cried, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Hundreds of migrants from war-torn Syria and other Middle Eastern countries have been blocked in the attempt to reach sanctuary in northern Europe by the closure of borders all the way through the Balkans from Macedonia to Austria.

Macedonian police fought back hundreds of migrants who tried to storm the border on Monday, using tear gas to push back men trying to break through the steel gates.

An estimated 25,000 refugees are currently waiting in Greece, with around 3,000 more per day reaching the south-easternmost state in the European Union.

Germany has repeatedly called for a collective solution to the migrant crisis which does not cut off the economically struggling Greeks from the rest of the union.

"We can't leave [Greece] in the lurch," Merkel said in a TV interview on Sunday in which she insisted on her “damn duty” to find a collective European solution.

'National solutions won't solve anything'

On a visit to Washington on Monday Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the scenes at the Macedonian border that “are proof that we can try and find national solutions, but they won't solve anything.”

Germany is furious with Austria, which it blames for splitting off from the path of solidarity and encouraging other countries to pursue self-interested policies.

Vienna was the first capital to announce it would be closing its borders, setting of a chain reaction which led to border gates being closed throughout the Balkan region.

Austria also announced in late February it would only accept 80 asylum applications a day, while it would allow a thousands of refugees to pass through its territory towards Germany. Berlin responded by calling the decision “unacceptable.”

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Germany's critics in southern and eastern Europe, who feel that Merkel is strong-arming them into accepting Germany's will, are likely see the call made by migrants for Merkel's help as further proof that Berlin has encouraged people to migrate illegally into Europe.

On March 7th European leaders will meet with their Turkish counterparts to try and hammer out better cooperation on stopping the migrant flow across the Aegean Sea into Greece.

Germany has already warned that the summit is a make-or-break moment in the crisis.

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