PICTURES: Migrants Rush Out Of Greek Camp, Seek New Route Around Macedonian Fence

IDOMENI, Greece (Reuters) – More than 1,000 migrants streamed out of a camp near the northern Greek border on Monday to try to find a way around a border fence blocking their way into Macedonia, Reuters witnesses said.

A large group of migrants marched away from the sprawling tent city near Idomeni, where at least 12,000 people have been stranded in filthy conditions since Macedonia and other nations blocked their route north along the so-called Western Balkan route, a Reuters TV crew said.

Later a second group of 500 migrants set off from Idomeni to follow them.

Refugees walk across fields as they make their way to Macedonia from a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni on March 14, 2016, where thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded by the Balkan border blockade. Over 1000 refugees left the Idomeni camp on March 14, at noon to find a way to Macedonia. The German and Greek leaders blasted Balkan countries for shutting their borders to migrants ahead of an EU ministers meeting on March 10. Greek authorities said there were 41,973 asylum seekers in the country, including some 12,000 stuck at Idomeni on the closed Macedonian border. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

(DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

They were trying to find a gap in the barbed wire fence that Macedonia has built along its border to deter the migrants, many of whom come from war zones in Syria and Iraq. They want to head north to wealthier European Union nations such as Germany.

Heading west from the camp in a long snaking cavalcade along muddy paths, the migrants, wrapped up in coats and hats, carried their belongings in rucksacks and bags. The group included many children, some walking, others pushed in strollers.

Some of the migrants made victory signs as they walked along. There was no sign of police following the migrants.

When they reached a river, the migrants passed a rope across it and formed a “human chain” to cross, Reuters photographer Stojan Nenov said. Migrants carried children across on their shoulders.

IDOMENI, GREECE - MARCH 14: Migrants cross a river as they try to walk to the Macedonian border after deciding to leave the Idomeni refugee camp on March 14, 2016 in Idomeni, Greece. The decision by Macedonia to close its border to migrants on Wednesday has left thousands of people stranded at the Greek transit camp. The closure, following the lead taken by neighbouring countries, has effectively sealed the so-called western Balkan route, the main migration route that has been used by hundreds of thousands of migrants to reach countries in Western Europe such as Germany. Humanitarian workers have described the conditions at the camp as desperate, which has been made much worse by recent bouts of heavy rain. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Migrants cross a river as they try to walk to the Macedonian border after deciding to leave the Idomeni refugee camp on March 14, 2016 in Idomeni, Greece. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

After crossing the river, the migrants reached the border fence and walked along it trying to find a way through into Macedonia.

Earlier, Macedonian police said three migrants – two men and a woman – had drowned while trying to cross a river close to the Greek border that had been swollen by heavy rain.

Refugees and migrants try cross a river on their way to Macedonia from a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni on March 14, 2016, where thousands of refugees and migrants are stranded by the Balkan border blockade. More than 14,000 people are stuck on the Greek side of the border in an overcrowded camp at Idomeni after the main migrant route to western Europe through the Balkans was effectively shut down last week. / AFP / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

(DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece has stepped up efforts to move thousands of migrants near the Macedonian border to sheltered camps amid fears about the spread of infectious diseases.

EU leaders and Turkey are due to meet again on Thursday and Friday to seal a deal to try to stem illegal migrant flows from Turkey to Europe through Greece.

(Reporting by Branko Filipovic; editing by Adrian Croft and Gareth Jones)


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