Riot Police Brought in to Empty Out Greece's Largest Refugee Camp
The refugees said the newly organized camps will move them further away from the border. The operation began around dawn Tuesday when about 20 riot police units, 400 police in total started to transfer people on buses. The Greek government and police officials said that people would be moved gradually but force would not be used, according to the Guardian.
Giorgos Kyritsis, Greek government spokesman for the refugees crisis, said that all of the migrants in the camp would be moved to camps near Thessalonki, Greece’s second biggest city. “A thing like Idomeni cannot be maintained. It only serves the interests of smugglers … removing all the refugees from the disgrace which is Idomeni is in their own interests.”
The makeshift camp located in northern Greece, close to the Macedonian border started as an informal pedestrian border crossing for refugees heading towards Europe. It then filled with an over 8,000 people in February after border closures with Macedonia. Since then other Balkan countries have also closed their borders. Most of those in the camp are refugees stranded from conflicts raging in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Journalists were not allowed in the area, but buses carrying police and a police helicopter were reported. It was reported Monday that police started evacuating about 2,000 people who have been blocking a rail track for more than a month, forcing trains to divert through Bulgaria. More than 800,000 refugees have travelled through Greece since 2015, according to U.N. estimates, generating a refugee crisis in the region. Greece is one of the main points of entry to Europe for Syrian refugees.