Macedonia has closed its borders to Afghan refugees, which has lead Greece to suggest that the number of displaced people it houses would grow rapidly as more refugees are stranded between the two countries. According to Greek police, the reason that Macedonia has tightened its restrictions on refugees is because Serbia – a nation that sits along the Balkans migration route into the west – has done the same. Macedonian officials now fear that if refugees are granted passage, that they would end up being unable to leave and be stuck in Macedonia.

However, a Serbian official stated that the decision to block refugees from Afghanistan was made by Austria and Slovenia, and that the ruling was not theirs to make. "Serbia does not decide who can pass through its territory without consulting the states up the migrant route," he said. "[Our] borders are open, Serbia has not closed its borders with Macedonia or Bulgaria in any way."

A Macedonian police spokeswoman has also denied there was any new prohibition regarding Afghans, and that the problem was indeed Serbia. The spokeswoman backed her case by reporting that Macedonia had not closed its borders to Afghans because there had been nine people admitted on 21 February, with one being let through after midnight.

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A Macedonian police officer looks on as young boy from Afghanistan cries and places his face against the fence at the Greece-Macedonia border during a demonstration near the village of Idomeni, northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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An woman crying as she covers herself and her children with a blanket, following reports that Macedonia has closed its borders with Greece to Afghan refugees, near the village of Idomeni, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters
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A man climbs over a fence while refugees from Afghanistan protest against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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A baby cries amid the protests against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian borderSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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A child sleeps on a blanket pulled by two men who walk towards the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters
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A refugee crawls under the border fence from Greece to Macedonia, after Macedonia closed its borders with Greece for people from AfghanistanAlexandros Avramidis/ Reuters
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A man holds his passport as he waits to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, in northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/AFP
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Refugees and migrants line up as they wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters
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A child eats a biscuit while refugees from Afghanistan rest in a camp as they wait for permission to cross the border from Macedonia to Serbia, near the village of TabanovceRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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A child sleeps on a bench as people from Afghanistan rest in a camp as they wait for permission to cross the border from Macedonia to Serbia near the village of TabanovceRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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A young boy waits to enter in Macedonia from Greece near Gevgelija, MacedoniaOgnen Teofilvovski/Reuters

Despite this, 1,000 refugees were left waiting at Idomeni, a Greek border camp, while there were more than 4,000 waiting in buses at a petrol station 11 miles away. Around 500 refugees decided to make the journey from the petrol station to the border on foot.

"I can no longer wait," said 17-year-old Ali Nowroz, one of the travellers, who comes from the Afghan city of Jaghori Zeba. "We have spent three nights in the cold. We are hungry. They told me that the borders have been closed to us. However, when I started from Afghanistan I knew borders were open for us. I am going to the Idomeni border crossing to find out and ask why they have closed it."

Greek police prevented Afghan refugees from crossing the border at the Idomeni camp, as well as the petrol station, persuading some to board buses back to Athens, which is 335 miles away.

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Refugees from Afghanistan wave banners, as they protest against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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A man from Afghanistan holds a sign which reads: 'we don;t need food, just open borders' as thousands of refugees protest against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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A boy from Afghanistan carries his meal as other migrants wait in line for food delivered by a humanitarian organisation at Victoria square in Athens, GreeceMilos Bicanski/ Getty Images)
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Refugees from Afghanistan rest in a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) camp and wait to be allowed to cross the Macedonian-Serbian border near the village of TabanovceRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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Refugees from Afghanistan protest against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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Refugees from Afghanistan are held back by police, as they protest against the closure of the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/ AFP
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A woman carries a child near train tracks as people from Afghanistan wait for permission to cross the border from Macedonia to Serbia near the village of TabanovceRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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People board a train heading to Serbia from the Macedonian-Greek border near GevgelijaRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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A young girl stands near train tracks as refugees from Afghanistan wait for permission to cross the border from Macedonia to Serbia near the village of TabanovceRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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Refugees from Afghanistan wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniSakis Mitrolidis/AFP
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A man waits to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniSakis Mitrolidis/AFP
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People rest next to buses as they wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters

Only 150 refugees from Iraq and Syria were allowed into Macedonia since the morning on Sunday (21 February), with a mere 310 on the previous day. Macedonia and Czech police have been inspecting documents of the Iraqi and Syrian refugees, only allowing those with passports or ID cards into Macedonia, a change from the previous regulations, which was that Greek police documents were also considered a valid means of identification, as long as the individual had been processed.

"Me and my brother have been waiting for three days here but we cannot cross because we have no passports," said Hadi Dakhil, a 25 year old from the Iraqi city of Shingal. "The Turks confiscated them and, without them, the Macedonian authorities will not accept us."

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Children stretch out their arms while waiting with other migrants and refugees on a train heading to Serbia from the Macedonian-Greek borderRobert Atanasovski/AFP
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Macedonian soldiers patrol near the double razor wire at Macedonian Greek border near Gevgelija, MacedoniaOgnen Teofilvovski/Reuters
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A child waits for transport to Serbia at a transit camp near Gevgelija, MacedoniaOgnen Teofilvovski/Reuters
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Greek police block the way to refugees from Afghanistan, who are trying to reach a camp next to the Greek-Macedonian border, near the village of Idomeni, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters
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Refugees from Afghanistan hold their identity papers as police block their way to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of IdomeniSakis Mitrolidis/AFP
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Afghan migrants keep warm in a field as they wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of IdomeniYannis Behrakis/Reuters
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A baby cries as refugees wait at a gas station, their last stop before reaching the Greek-Macedonian border, near the town of Polikastro, GreeceAlexandros Avramidis/Reuters
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Refugees walk along a road to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the village of Idomeni, northern GreeceSakis Mitrolidis/AFP