Thousands stranded at Greece-FYROM border – Syrians and Iraqis free to cross

Thousands stranded at Greece-FYROM border – Syrians and Iraqis free to cross

Athens, February 24, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Spiros Sideris

Suffocating remains the situation in Idomeni. The passage of refugees is very slow, while at least 3,500 people remain at the reception center. On Tuesday afternoon was completed the operation for the removal of Afghans after a police operation, while the borders are once again open for Syrians and Iraqis.

On the next 24 hours, buses carrying refugees from Athens who want to reach Idomeni are expected to be sent to the “Anagnostopoulou” camp at Diavata, Thessaloniki, and from there cross to the neutral zone between Greece and FYROM.

According to information, the decision was taken at a meeting between a representative of the Immigration Policy ministry and NGO members operating at the temporary refugee camp in Idomeni.

Early Tuesday afternoon ended the police operation for the evacuation of the camp by Afghans, some of whom had occupied the railway lines, asking to lift the ban that prevented them passage to FYROM.

The police cordoned off the area since 7:00 am, removing journalists and TV crews, and began the transfer of Afghan by bus in Athens.

Meanwhile, a bus received and transferred to Athens migrants from the Maghreb countries, who were returned by police in FYROM.

Overall, more than 20 buses departed from the camp and headed to Athens.

Early Tuesday evening, at the gas station at the height of Polykastro, where refugees were disembarking, there was no bus, while full, with about 2,500 people, is the camp at Idomeni.

The authorities of FYROM, which since Monday afternoon had closed the crossing point, began on Tuesday afternoon to allow entry to refugees, with an extremely slow pace, thus causing long delays. The smooth flow is hindered now by the fact that refugees from Iraq and Syria are now required to have a passport or identity, in addition to the note received from the Greek authorities, in order to enter FYROM. However, many of them, as noted by members of humanitarian organisations have lost their papers during the long journey from their destination countries and identification is time consuming.

At the same time, the national road Athens-Lamia from Thebes up to Fthiotida, has been turned into a vast hot spot. All the motels in the area are since noon Monday cluttered with bus passengers heading to Idomeni. The Greek police (ELAS) has immobilized more than 500 refugees at the height of Thebes, in a motels at the 90th km.

In Lamia are immobilized more than 30 buses to various motels along the highway, or even at the entrance of Lamia, and more than 1,500 refugees remain there.

From Tuesday afternoon, police began to channel a few buses every half an hour, while more buses continue to arrive to Lamia from Athens.

Officials in the region have tried to respond by gathering what food they could, but what the refugees want is to continue their journey as soon as possible.

During the last 24 hours there has been tension, with the trapped refugees demanding to continue their journey.

In the region has gathered a strong police force to supervise them, but the situation becomes increasingly nightmarish, as there aren’t even the minimal conditions to spend a second night.


Photo: AMNA