An Associated Press report appeared in the Kathimerini English Edition daily newspaper published in Athens on Tuesday. It explained that Greek authorities had begun to evacuate the Idomeni refugee camp. Lying on the border with Macedonia, Idomeni is the largest informal refugee camp in Greece. Residents are being moved to newly completed ‘official’ camps, for example in Thessaloniki.
The government’s spokesman for the refugee crisis, Giorgos Kyritsis, said Monday that police would not use force, and that the operation was expected to last about a week to 10 days.
The first four buses, carrying a total of about 200 people, left Idomeni just over two hours after the operation began, heading to a new refugee camp near Greece’s main northern city of Thessaloniki. No violence was reported.
The camp, which sprung up at an informal pedestrian border crossing for refugees and migrants heading north to Europe, is home to an estimated 8,400 people – including hundreds of children – mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
At its peak, when FYROM [Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] shut its border in March, it housed more than 14,000, but the numbers have declined as people realized the border was shut and began accepting authorities’ offers of alternative places to stay.