Macedonia considers border fence against refugees

An estimated 4,000 refugees make their way through Macedonia every day

Macedonia's foreign minister, Nikola Poposki, has said that his country might follow Hungary's example and build a border fence to stem the influx of refugees trekking through the Balkans to reach Western Europe, Al Jazeera reports.

Poposki issued the statement on Friday as an estimated 4,000 refugees continue to make their way through Macedonia each day, with some enduring police beatings and worsening weather situations.

"We too will need some kind of physical defence to reduce illegal border crossing... Either soldiers or a fence or a combination of the two," Poposki said in an interview with Hungarian business weekly Figyelo.

He said his country was currently forced to let the 3,000 to 4,000 migrants who arrive in his country on a daily basis continue their journey to Serbia and Hungary unimpeded.

"There is no European consensus on how we can handle this question," he said.

Al Jazeera reports that the situation on the border between Greece and Macedonia is becoming increasingly tense.

Along with neighbouring Serbia, Macedonia has become a major transit country for tens of thousands of refugees who hike up from Greece, after risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea crammed onto makeshift boats, with the majority of them heading for Germany, which has pledged to welcome hundreds of thousands more refugees having already taken in 450,000 to date since January.

So far, more than 160,000 have already crossed through Macedonia on their way to Serbia and Hungary this year. Last month, Macedonia declared a state of emergency as it struggled to cope with the relentless stream of people and reports overnight said that Hungary's government is considering declaring a state of emergency within the next week.

Hungary completed a razor-wire barrier along its 175km border with Serbia in late August, but it has failed to stop distraught refugees from scaling the barrier nonetheless, so it is building another fence four metres high that it aims to complete by late October or early November, and the government has said it will be manned by the military.

According to the UN's refugee agency, some 85% of those hoping to eventually reach wealthy EU nations such as Germany or Sweden are not merely in search of a better life, but have been forced to leave because of wars in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.