Greece Begins Relocation of Migrants from Idomeni Refugee Camp
Greek authorities began on Tuesday morning to gradually evacuate people from the country's largest informal refugee camp which has sprung up near the village of Idomeni located at the border with Macedonia.
Authorities blocked access to the area and deployed more than 400 riot police to the makeshift camp, daily Ekathimerini informs.
The government's spokesperson for the refugee crisis, Giorgos Kyritsis, said on Monday that the police would not use force, with the evacuation operation expected to last around a week or ten days.
The first four buses with around 200 people on board left the camp only two hours after the start of the operation. The buses headed to a new refugee camp near the city of Thessaloniki.
The camp at Idomeni sprang up at informal pedestrian border crossing for refugees and migrants heading to western and northern Europe.
According to estimates, at present there are 8400 people at the camp, including hundreds of children. The majority of migrants at the camp are coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Back in March, more than 18 000 people were stranded at Idomeni when Macedonia and other countries along the so-called Western Balkan route closed their borders.
Since then, there has been decrease in the number of migrants at the makeshift camp as people started accepting the offers of authorities to be relocated elsewhere.
Migrants at Idomeni have been living in small camping tents set up in fields and along h railway line. Heavy rain and muddy ponds have accounted for poor living conditions at the camp.
Greece, which wants to reopen the country's main freight railway line to the Balkans that has been blocked by protesting migrants since March, assured that the migrants will be moved to newly completed official camps.
The operation began with voluntary evacuation on Sunday when eight buses carrying around 400 people left the camp.
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