The Greek government said Monday it plans to clamp down on the dissemination of false information to migrants and refugees stranded at the tent city near Idomeni on Greece's northern border.
“Dealing with the dissemination of irresponsible rumors and misinformation to groups of people who are under pressure and who are living in squalid conditions, like the refugees at Idomeni, is a difficult but necessary task,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, the spokesman for Greece’s migration coordination center.
“Rumors spread among desperate people like bushfire,” he said.
Early Sunday, hundreds of hopeful refugees flooded back to the makeshift camp on the border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) following rumors that the closed frontier would be forced open. The wave of new arrivals appeared to be triggered by a rumor that international journalists and Red Cross officials would help them force their way across the fence into FYROM.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of people were stopped by FYROM troops after crossing a surging river on the border. Three Afghan migrants, including a pregnant woman, drowned.
Kyritsis said that some of the rumors were coming from people who are genuinely interested in helping the refugees.
“However, there are also people who are playing games at the expense of the refugees and, to some extent, at the expense of the country,” he said.
Authorities are investigating the incident, Kyritsis said.
He said that the government plans to send a team of interpreters and increase the number of loudspeakers across the camp to make sure refugees receive reliable information about the latest developments.