Greek police officers have been sent to Idomeni, the largest informal refugee camp in Greece, to reinforce its evacuation. When Macedonia closed its border in March, the number of refugees was estimated to be 14,000, but numbers have since declined.
About 700 police officers participated in the evacuation. The refugees are being relocated to an organized camp in Thessaloniki, a city in northern Greece. Residents of Idomeni have been given the choice to relocate to organized camps. Government spokesperson for the refugee crisis, Girgos Kyritsis, said on Monday that police will not use force.
The Idomeni camp, located at an informal border crossing for refugees heading north to Europe, holds at least 8,400 people from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said the evacuation appeared to be going “calmly,” and that they would be sending more staffers to aid in evacuation.
“It does often help to move people into more organized sites, when they’re willing to move to those places.”
Greek authorities have sent cleaning crews to Idomeni regularly and have provided portable toilets, giving the camps a more organized appearance, with refugees putting up makeshift shops.
“It’s much better here than in the camps. That’s what everybody who’s been here said,” stated Hind Al Mkawi, 38, a refugee from Damascus.
Some refugees, such as Hind Al Mkawi, are reluctant to leave, hoping that the Macedonian border will open and they will be able to journey onward.