Monday 22 January 2018

Evacuation of Idomeni refugee camp continues for second day

A bus carries migrants out of the makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece (AP)
A bus carries migrants out of the makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece (AP)

Greek authorities have begun a second day moving people out of the sprawling Idomeni refugee camp on the country's northern border with Macedonia.

Some of those staying in Idomeni had already boarded two buses waiting to take them to other camps by the time police arrived.

More than 700 officers were deployed but no violence was reported in the operation that began at dawn on Tuesday in the camp of more than 8,000 people. Journalists have been banned from approaching the site.

Authorities said about 2,000 people were moved on Tuesday. The evacuation is expected to last several days.

The Idomeni residents are being transported to newly built shelters set up by local authorities and the army.

"It was a calm night," said Vicky Markolefa, spokeswoman for the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders. "What we are seeing is that people are leaving voluntarily. There has been no problem."

The evacuation definitively dashed the dreams of thousands who had been camping there for months in the hope of eventually being able to cross over and continue toward Europe's more prosperous heartland.

But Balkan and European borders have been closed to refugees since March in an attempt to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands who have crossed the continent and headed for wealthy European countries by making their way to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast.

The border closures have stranded more than 54,000 people in Greece. At its peak in March, the camp at Idomeni housed more than 14,000 people, but numbers began declining as people accepted offers of alternative places to stay.

During the evacuation's first day, some staying at Idomeni left on foot to avoid being transported to official camps.

Press Association

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