NEWS

Police clear more migrant camps near the border, warn of arrests

TAGS: Migration, Diplomacy

Greek authorities on Tuesday cleared another two makeshift migrant camps near the country’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), moving hundreds of residents to state-run facilities.

Around 2,000 migrants have been living in the two camps, which had sprung up around a highway hotel and a nearby gas station.

Around a third of them were moved on Tuesday.

Many of them are from Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan, not the war-torn states of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to local police.

On Monday, over a thousand people were relocated from another makeshift camp set up around another gas station about 20 kilometers from the border with FYROM.

The three makeshift camps had expanded after officials moved thousands of people away from the sprawling tent city of Idomeni, on the border with FYROM, last month.

An unspecified number of migrants fled the makeshift camps ahead of the evacuations Tuesday and Monday. According to police sources, they are believed to be undocumented migrants who have not applied for asylum and who will subsequently face arrest and deportation if caught.

The influx of migrants into Greece had eased off following a deal inked in March between Turkey and the European Union foreseeing the return of migrants from Greece to Turkey. However, arrivals have resumed recently against a backdrop of Turkish authorities’ frustration at slow-moving negotiations for the country’s accession to the EU.

Ankara is keen for Brussels to grant its citizens visa-free travel to the EU but Brussels has said this will only be possible once Ankara improves its anti-terrorism legislation.

Ties between Ankara and Brussels were tested further Tuesday after the EU’s top envoy to Turkey resigned.
Hansjoerg Haber resigned after displaying what a Turkish minister said was disrespect for national values and for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The development was a sign that the deal might be on shaky ground. The EU is keen to keep the deal in place and ensure irregular migration into the bloc is averted. More than 1 million migrants have entered the EU since the beginning of last year.

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