By Vasiliki Mitsiniotou
ATHENS (AA) – The transport of migrants from Idomeni in northern Greece to other facilities was announced by the authorities on Monday.
In a statement to ANA-MPA news agency, Giorgos Kyritsis – a spokesman for the Greek refugee coordinating committee – estimated that all would be transferred over the next 10 days starting from Tuesday.
More than 8,400 stranded migrants remain at a camp in Idomeni, hoping that they can make their way into northern Europe. However, Macedonia and other Balkan countries have shut their borders since the beginning of March.
There have been frequent riots due to the ongoing uncertainty and bad living conditions at Idomeni in recent months. Migrants have repeatedly tried to cross the border and blocked a local railway line. The Greek government has received a lot of criticism from opposition parties and domestic media for allowing the frequent blocking of goods to Macedonia and the rest of Europe.
Police say the new transfers will be similar to an operation back in November, when around 2,500 people were moved. The security forces say the procedure will be gradual and smooth and not a sweeping operation.
There will also be an effort to persuade migrants to move on to other accommodation facilities.
There are already six former industrial premises which can accommodate between 6,500-7,000 migrants Kyritsis was reported as saying. More will be added in Thessaloniki and the nearby city of Katerini according to police.
Over a million migrants have entered Greece since 2015 in the greatest immigration wave to hit Europe since World War II. More than 50,000 people have remained in the country due to border restrictions applied by its Balkan neighbors.