Kiwi Anna McPhee detained in Macedonia helping refugees in river crossing

Volunteer Anna McPhee, from Christchurch, was detained after helping refugees in northern Greece.
SUPPLIED

Volunteer Anna McPhee, from Christchurch, was detained after helping refugees in northern Greece.

A Kiwi who helped refugees in Greece make a desperate river crossing out the country's north was detained by the Macedonian military.

Christchurch 29-year-old Anna McPhee is among several aid workers and volunteers based in the northern Greek village Idomeni where some 14,000 refugees are living in tents, blocked from crossing the border to Macedonia.

Trapped in squalid, icy conditions, refugees – most of them from Syria – made a dire attempt around the border, trekking through a river after a leaflet with a map and instructions was disseminated.

Anna McPhee packed her bags for Greece in January to volunteer in the refugee crisis.
SUPPLIED

Anna McPhee packed her bags for Greece in January to volunteer in the refugee crisis.

McPhee, a former St John volunteer who left for Greece on January 11, took to her Facebook page to inform people she was detained on Monday night as she helped refugees make their fruitless trip.

READ MORE: 
Christchurch woman joins the front line in refugee crisis
Greece steps up efforts to move migrants to sheltered camps
6000 refugees a day: New Zealand woman volunteering at Athens ports

According to foreign media reports, 80 reporters and aid workers were arrested. Thousands of refugees were forcibly sent back to Greece. Three refugees drowned in the river crossing, and many more were detained.

McPhee sat in a field with refugees guarded by the Macedonian army for up to two hours. Mistaken for a refugee, she was taken to a police station and released about eight hours later.

"Whether the actions my group took were reasonable is questioned by some people, and for sure some decisions made were good, some not so good," she wrote on her Facebook page.

"Everybody makes mistakes and has to act in their best judgement. To let people drown in a river or lie sick and diminishing out in the hills was out of the question for us. Days on I am still a little overwhelmed by the whole situation. I feel we acted with our hearts and all did on an individual level what we believed to be right.

"We are humans and acted in the way I like to think many people I call friends would act."

Ad Feedback

McPhee is back in Greece. She has been banned from Macedonia for six months and needed to buy "an expensive piece of paper" to be freed.

For McPhee and other volunteers, the situation is delicate. Authorities believe some volunteers are responsible for the pamphlets, and they face the prospect of being charged with people smuggling and murder for those who died.

McPhee stressed she was not part of any scheme. She was only there to help refugees.

"I knew nothing about the papers, nor did I realise I was crossing into Macedonia," she said.

McPhee's voluntary work in Greece began in January, working as an independent volunteer with a rescue team and based in Pikpa Camp in Lesvos​.

In Christchurch,  McPhee had volunteered for St John since she was 19. During the first earthquake, she worked at a recovery centre in Linwood where she provided basic first aid and dealt with people who were panicked and distressed.

 

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Horse rescued from crashed float

The "horrible" crash occurred on the southern motorway near Pukukohe.

Jaws of life were used to free a trapped horse after "horrible" accident south of Auckland.

Along came a little lump

Dylan Bowman, 21, wants to try motivational speaking, to share his story and his outlook on life.

It all started with a few clumsy stumbles in the kitchen. Now, chef Dylan Bowman has a "nasty tumour".

Truckie thrown from vehicle

Westpac Rescue Helicopter is airlifting the truckie to hospital.

Man seriously injured after crash near Wellsford in Northland shuts section of SH1.

$500k crashed super car driver charged

The rare and exclusive McLaren super car line is named after New Zealand motorsport legend Bruce McLaren.

His rare and exclusive super car flipped on an Auckland motorway.

Wellington

Gunner Billy's high-seas adventure

Cigarette-card portrait of World War I hero William 'Gunner Billy' Sanders.

The VC winner lived and died in a boy's own dream.

NZ seeks military craft

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes will replace a fleet of retiring P-3K planes.

Four airplanes from US would replace a retiring fleet of P-3K maritime patrols.

Woman hit by car dies

Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, was closed for a while after the collision on Saturday morning.

Fatality in Gisborne while nasty crash in Wellington closes road temporarily.

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

Canterbury

Theatrical climate change march

The People's Climate Parade march towards the Avon River.

Key messages were expressed on stage in a "family-friendly" protest.

Small town Chinese garden scandal

The West Coast town of Kumara has a population of about 300.

Westland council allows tiny town's "nest egg" to be used for a garden many don't want.

Used office furniture glut hits Chch

Faced with four floors of surplus furniture to dispose of, Canterbury District Health Board services manager Pauline ...

Christchurch is the place for a bargain as tenants in new office buildings get rid of cast offs.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

Invercargill rocked to core after a love triangle turned fatal. Where did it all go wrong?

Waikato

Architectural wonders revealed

The new law and management building at Waikato University was designed by Opus Architecture.

A lot of well known Waikato and Bay of Plenty buildings - and spaces - have earned accolades.

It's our turn to fix this

A medical school backed by Waikato Hospital, pictured, and Waikato University  seeks to train GPs to fill a critical ...

OPINION: The old boys have failed to fix New Zealand's doctor shortage, now it's our turn.

Join the fight for our med school

Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley and Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray.

A proposed medical school in the Waikato has the Government interested.

Ref raids accounts

050711 NEWS. Robert Charles/Taranaki Daily News. Cheque/ cheque book. Money. Bank.

Colleagues blew the whistle on referee who swiped $13K and a video camera.

Taranaki

Faith in the future

Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary's, Bishop Philip Richardson, centre, blesses Dean of St Mary's Very Reverend Peter Beck as ...

New Zealand's oldest church is being strengthened and it's about more than bricks and mortar.

Mystery is solved 

An unusual search and rescue mission was launched on Mt Taranaki, after a backpack was left behind at Holly Hut.

Backpack sparked search and rescue mission after being left behind in mountain hut.

Campbell Lane opens

South Taranaki District mayor Ross Dunlop officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

New development in Hawera gets the thumbs-up from residents.

To Hollywood by motorbike

Todd Holland's work appears on motorbikes in Hollywood movie Ghost in the Shell.

A small-town car painting shop has made it big, with its work featuring in Ghost in the Shell.

Manawatu

Tourism tips in the 1920s

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles' wedding day.

Memory Lane: How to attract more tourists? The Standard had the answer 95 years ago.

13 reasons to watch

"13 Reasons Why" Star Gets A Tweet From Her Idol Lady Gaga!

Come on kids, time to watch controversial show dealing with suicide.

New act counters cyberbullying

The Harmful Digitial Communications Act was passed in July 2015.

Act helps as more than 20 people prosecuted for posting harmful content online.

NZDF civilians take strike action

Civilian employees of NZDF are on strike about pay.

Union accuses Defence Force of intimidation.

Nelson

Not a house, it's a croquet shelter

Athol Turner has a few home comforts at the Hinemoa Croquet Club shelter, including coffee and a biography of Alec Guiness.

As the Nelson City Council looks to implement a new law banning sleeping in the city we meet a man who has made a croquet club his home.

Housing crisis help?

David Barnes, right, with his son Samuel Barnes who needs medical care, pictured with the dwelling David built for him ...

A Nelson man built a home on his property for his mentally-ill son. Could this solve our housing issues?

Guilty of murder

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from home.

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder.

Taking a leaf out of the future video

Nelson Mail Journalist Tim O'Connell with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle(EV) that the Nelson Mail has had on loan from ...

Tim O'Connell shares the thrills, trials and tribulations of driving an electric vehicle.

Marlborough

Ophthalmology waiting list halved

The ophthalmology service at Nelson Marlborough Health has been remodelled which has cut the waiting list for those ...

The health board has remodelled its ophthalmology service and cut the waiting list for those needing follow-up.

Pokies accused 'collateral damage'

The Department of Internal Affairs said Mike O'Brien was "unsuitable" to be involved in the pokie gambling business.

Inquiry into who was behind pokie machine operations was flawed, says lawyer.

Old dog with new tricks

Vincent the retired guide dog plays Sandy in the new production of Annie.

A retired guide dog is treading the boards as the furry star of Marlborough's newest musical.

It's the climb

Blenheim cyclist Andrew Bidwell, 16, is aiming for a podium finish at the upcoming Age Group Road National Championships ...

When another cyclist said he was going to make Andrew's race hell, he laughed it off and smashed the pack by five minutes.

South Canterbury

Parents remember 'talented' son

Rowan Yeager died following a crash near Lake Ohau on Anzac Day. This photo, supplied by friend Andrew Weatherall, shows ...

Man killed in crash near Lake Ohau was just a week off moving into house he built by hand.

Cleverley 'exonerated'

Former South Canterbury District Health Board chair Murray Cleverley has spoken out for the first time about his ...

Former SCDHB chair Murray Cleverley says decision to resign as chair was tough.

'We have got a lot of work to do'

SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor says the DHB is going try and improve low rates of HPV vaccination by providing more ...

SC has a 'poor' HPV vaccination rate, prompting the DHB to turn to social media.

Strong winds lash SC

Police were called to the scene of a camper van crash on Friday afternoon, thought to be caused by the wind.

Tourists escape with minor injuries after two campers blown off road south of Tekapo.

Southland

'They thought it was a dolphin' video

The French tourist arrives at Dunedin Hospital by helicopter after she was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in ...

A French tourist who survived a shark attack wrenched its jaws from her legs, a local surfer says.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

A city's been rocked after a broken marriage ended in death. Where'd it all go wrong?

Ocean swimming 'sharks' territory'

Lydia Ward holds her wetsuit with tooth holes and the boogie board she used to fend off a 1.5m shark that bit her on the ...

A former shark attack victim has urged a tourist bitten by a shark to stay true to her passions - including ocean swimming.

Rugby's presidential change

Outgoing Rugby Southland president Donald Hay.

One Eastern Southland rugby stalwart goes, another one replaces him.

Ad Feedback