IDOMENI (GREECE) - Thousands of migrants trapped on the Greek-Macedonian border faced a muddy ordeal Tuesday after an overnight downpour left their tents drenched and children coughing miserably.
Over 7,000 people -- many of them stranded in near the Idomeni border crossing for days -- spent a freezing night and awoke under wet canvas among sodden wheat fields.
The weather conditions have already taken a toll on the travellers’ health, and many children could be heard coughing and crying, an AFP correspondent said.
Zineb Hosseini, a Syrian mother of five, said her family was 'freezing'.
'And now the wait begins anew,' she added.
With Austria and Balkan states capping the numbers of migrants entering their soil, there has been a swift build-up along the Greece-Macedonia border with Athens warning that the number of people 'trapped' could reach up to 70,000 by next month.
Greek state agency ANA said another 6,000 people were expected to head to the border area after landing on Aegean islands from neighbouring Turkey.
Macedonia allowed 300 Syrian and Iraqi refugees on Saturday night and another group of the same size early on Monday before closing the frontier.
Angered by the ongoing closures, hundreds of desperate migrants tried to break through the border on Monday, with Macedonian police firing tear gas into a crowd that included children.
At least 30 people required first aid, a medical charity said, while a Macedonian policeman was taken to hospital.
Amnesty International denounced the situation at Idomeni, branding it 'the result of a shameful spate of discriminatory border closures'.
The closures have sharpened divisions in the EU with Germany accusing Austria of triggered a domino effect by saying it would cap asylum requests at 80 per day and allow only 3,200 migrants to cross its territory daily.
A week later, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia all followed suit, capping daily arrivals at 580.