Thousands of migrants cleared from Idomeni camp | News | DW | 25.05.2016
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Thousands of migrants cleared from Idomeni camp

Greek police has been busing refugees out of Idomeni, with no violence reported between the migrants and the security forces. The move to accommodation in Thessaloniki is running "smoothly," according to the government.

The authorities had moved over 2,000 people by Tuesday night and removed some of the tents and trash using bulldozers, witnesses said.

It will take a week to relocate all of the 8,400 refugees from the camp near the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's border, according to the Greek government. Reporters near the site have counted at least 40 buses driving the migrants away.

"It is running smoothly. The people are being moved to better camps," spokesman Giorgos Kyritsis told state radio.

Athens deployed around 700 police officers and a helicopter to clear out the sprawling settlement, with the police also forming a cordon around the camp to keep journalists out.

Griechenland Idomeni Flüchtlinge verstecken sich

Some of the migrants fled to avoid relocation

Police and state media released footage of the migrants willingly lining up to enter the buses, carrying their belongings in large bags or piling them into pushchairs, and waving into the camera.

A small number of them, however, avoided the evacuation effort.

"The police were everywhere and it was quite scary," 50-year-old Syrian Emad Hawary, who fled the camp with his wife and two daughters, told the Associated Press news agency. "We don't want to go to a shelter. It's just another field."

'Migrants are tired'

The Idomeni camp was constructed to receive 2,000 people for a short period of time, but housed between 12,000 and 14,000 at its peak in March. Athens has been constructing alternative accommodation elsewhere in the country and urging Idomeni settlers to move.

Griechenland Idomeni Frau mit Kind vor einem Zug

Many migrants lived in miserable conditions for months in the hope of crossing into Macedonia

Many of the refugees have spent months sleeping in the open, hoping that the Macedonian border would be reopen allowing them to continue their journey towards richer European countries such as Germany and Sweden.

On Tuesday, a police source said the relocation is "going well, perhaps better than we expected.

"The migrants are tired and no longer expect the borders to be reopened," he added.

EU member Greece is currently housing some 54,000 migrants. Over a million newcomers have passed through the country after reaching its territory from Turkey.

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