Hundreds of migrants Friday occupied the capital’s central Larissis railway station, leading to the suspension of services, as they sought to board trains to Thessaloniki to join hundreds more migrants planning to travel north amid rumors that the border would be opening.
The occupation of the railway station started early Friday morning after the authorities stopped the migrants from boarding trains amid rising tensions. The migrants responded by climbing down onto the railway tracks, prompting Trainose to announce the suspension of services.
Meanwhile hundreds of migrants gathered next to the Diavata camp near Thessaloniki, responding to rumors on social media declaring that Greece’s northern border would be opening Friday.
Video footage of protesting migrants near the camp showed them surging toward police and being pushed back by officers firing tear gas.
Later Migration Ministry officials used bullhorns to urge migrants to return to the camps from which they had come.
Tensions had eased slightly at the camp by late last night but police remained on standby.
The situation was calmer at Larissis station too after Migration Ministry officials and representatives of the United Nations refugee agency convinced most of the migrants to leave.
Migration Minister Dimitris Vitsas told state television ERT that rumors on social media that borders would open were “lies.”
Some migrants were reluctant to leave, though. Abdul Karim, 29, from Kirkuk in Iraq, told Kathimerini that he had been at Larissis station for 18 hours. “It is our right to go to Thessaloniki,” he said. “People are waiting for us there.”
If the Greek authorities stopped him from traveling north, he would turn to traffickers, he said.