The Greek government on Saturday started handing out flyers printed in Arabic, Farsi and Pashto to migrants and refugees camped out on the country’s northern border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), informing them that the crossing is closed.
The message urges the residents of the squalid, rain-bogged camp to agree to be transferred to organized facilities where they can be processed for relocation amid concerns of deteriorating sanitation conditions at the location, which is currently hosting over 12,000 refugees and migrants – among them infants – waiting to cross into FYROM on their way to northern Europe.
“Greece will provide you with accommodation, food and medical care, as well as reception centers,” the flyer says.
“We need to convince these people, in every possible, non-violent way, that there are shelters in mainland Greece to host them,” Alternate Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas said on Friday, dismissing reports that a police sweep was planned to evacuate the overcrowded Idomeni camp.
“These people maintain the hope that a number of them will cross to the north,” Alternate Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said on Friday. “We’re trying to convince them… that the Balkan route has closed.”
Meanwhile, concerns of a health crisis breaking out at the Idomeni camp grew after doctors with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO) on Friday said they were treating a 9-year-old Syrian boy for hepatitis A, which is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food or water.