Greek Riot Police to Evacuate Migrants from Idomeni Camp: Officials

Greek Riot Police to Evacuate Migrants from Idomeni Camp: Officials
Mon May 23, 2016 19:31:37

Greek authorities have announced on Monday that riot police squads are set to launch a massive operation to evacuate the refugees from the makeshift camp of Idomeni on the country’s northern border with Macedonia.

Greek authorities said, at least 50 riot police squads would be deployed to Idomeni for the gradual removal of the refugees starting from Tuesday evening.

Government spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis said the evacuation process would begin "tomorrow, the day after and will be completed in a week, at most 10 days."

Source said some 2,000 people who have been blocking the railtrack on the border will be removed first. Some wagons loaded with goods have been stranded on the tracks at Idomeni for weeks.

However, Kyritsis denied reports that the Athens government was planning to forcibly reopen the railway.

"Removing all the refugees from the disgrace which is Idomeni is in their own interest. The railtrack will open for the train to pass through normally but the fundamental thing is for the people to be transferred to where the conditions are humane,” he added.

The developments come as Greek authorities worried about the spread of diseases in makeshift refugee camps have urged refugees to move to government-run camps with better living conditions.

Sources say an estimated 8,400 people at Idomeni will be sent to newly-completed, organized camps.

About 54,000 refugees have been stuck in makeshift refugee camps across Greece, after the European Union and Turkey reached a deal aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.

Under the deal, new arrivals on Greek islands after March 20 face being returned to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece.

As part of the EU-Ankara deal, Greece has since April 4 started deporting to Turkey refugees who do not meet asylum-seeking criteria.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has voiced concern about the deal, saying it could lead to the “collective expulsions” of people fleeing war in violation of international law.

Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

Last year, more than 1.1 million refugees entered Europe through Turkey and Greece and then made their way through the Balkans to Germany and other northern member states of the bloc.

Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in those regions, forcing more people to flee their homes, Press TV reported.

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