Athens/Idomeni – With the spread of infections that became a big concern with two people in a sprawling tent city diagnosed with Hepatitis A; Greece stated that it took the decision to step up efforts on Saturday in order to move the thousands of migrants who are stranded near the border with Macedonia to better sheltered camps.
Despite having Macedonia and other nations along the so-called Western Balkan route closing their borders, still at the scene shows at least 12,000 people including thousands of children and babies waiting to cross the border at the muddy tent city near the northern border town of Idomeni
“Greece will offer you accommodation, food and healthcare,” read the leaflets which were written in 3 languages; Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun. The leaflets were distributed by Greek authorities subsequently after fights broke out in the town this week as needy migrants and refugees scrambled for food and firewood, by the time many have been sleeping in bad conditions, the least to say in the open, often in the rain and low temperatures.
Greek authorities handed out those leaflets in Idomeni on Saturday, to inform the migrants and refugees that the main passage to northern Europe is shut and to urge them to move ahead to buildings and hospitality centres across Greece that had been set aside precisely for the purpose, as stated by government officials. Moreover, further leaflets would also be distributed in ports and islands to discourage people from going up to Idomeni, the government official added.
Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas, in charge of coordinating Greek efforts to tackle the refugee crisis, said 400 people were moved from Idomeni to camps on Friday and the numbers would increase in the coming days.
“Many of them are waiting for a decision by the (EU) summit on March 17. We are saying that regardless of this decision, there are three camps very close (to shelter them),” he told Greek Mega television.
EU leaders and Turkey are due to meet again on Thursday and Friday to seal a deal to stem illegal migrant flows from Turkey to Europe through Greece.
The bad, unclean and overcrowded conditions of the camp in Idomeni have given rise to infections. For instance, a nine-year old Syrian girl was diagnosed with Hepatitis A on Friday, according to Greece’s disease control agency.
However, the girl was being treated in a stable condition, the agency stated; assuring that it had already taken action to prevent spreading of the disease across the migrants in Idomeni. Another case of a second individual from Idomeni was also diagnosed with Hepatitis A and thuse transferred to a hospital on Saturday, according to a disease control official.
In an announcement late Saturday, the government said in order to ensure water quality, seven water transportation vehicles, of which three are deployed by the Greek army, started operating in Idomeni.
In the last 24 hours, 629 more people arrived on Greek islands from Turkey, with the total number of migrants and refugees stuck in the country reaching about 40,000, government data showed.