After more than two months, the railway linking Greece to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is set to resume service on Monday after protesting migrants were removed on Thursday, as police “peacefully” evacuated the nearby Idomeni border camp in northern Greece.
Migrants had pitched their tents on the tracks to protest the closing of the border into Northern Europe, costing Trainose, the national railway operator, some 2.75 million euros in lost revenue.
Authorities on Thursday said the evacuation of Idomeni camp – a stark reminder of Europe’s greatest refugee crisis since WWII – went as planned in full compliance with “fundamental principles of humanity.”
A total of 3,817 refugees and migrants were reportedly bused to new camps over the course of three days in the wider vicinity of Thessaloniki, while more than 3,000 left voluntarily and camped elsewhere, fearing they would be trapped in the new camps. But Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said they too will “soon be relocated to organized centers.”
At the beginning of the week there were still some 8,500 refugees at the camp, while at one point, at the height of the crisis, there were more than 12,000 there.
According to Immigration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas, the camp at Elliniko in Athens will be next.
“Conditions at Elliniko are not unsuitable, but they are not good and certainly not the conditions we should have for refugees and migrants,” he told Parliament, adding that clearing the camp “is a priority.”
“Elliniko will be shut down. I can’t tell you when. But it is our next move to evacuate Elliniko,” Mouzalas said.