Some 350 refugees and migrants, including many children, had gathered by Wednesday night in freezing conditions near Idomeni on Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) after the latter closed its borders.
Greek officials said that the border has been closed since Tuesday night, leaving dozens of people unable to cross into FYROM and continue their journeys to Central and Northern Europe.
Seven coaches full of refugees and migrants that had traveled north from Greece’s Aegean islands arrived at the border on Wednesday, prompting the government to allow the camp in Idomeni that had been constructed by nongovernmental organizations during the summer to be used to provide shelter and medical assistance to the migrants. Over the last few weeks, officials had refused to allow the camp to be used due to fears that hundreds of people would start gathering at the border again.
The cold weather has also made conditions difficult on the islands. Two refugees – one a 5-year-old child – died from hypothermia on Lesvos on Wednesday. The child died after the dinghy it was traveling in capsized off the island. It was taken to a medical center on Lesvos but doctors were unable to save its life. The coast guard rescued 46 people. The other person who died was a woman who reached the island safely but succumbed to the subzero temperature.
Authorities said that despite the worsening weather, about 1,000 people arrived on Lesvos on Tuesday and another 1,000 reached the island on Wednesday.