Authorities in Greece have started to evacuate the Idomeni refugee camp, the largest informal migrant encampment in the region with more than 8,000 people, including hundreds of children.
Most of the habitants, who hail from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, had been on their way to northern Europe when Macedonia closed down its border. Since then, they have been stranded in Idomeni, living under squalid conditions with no water, sanitation or proper food.
However, despite all their troubles, most of them are reluctant to move away from the border. In fact, once the news of the evacuation broke out, a number of refugees chose to flee the camp. Those who volunteered to leave the camp, which had become the emblem of Europe’s failure to manage the crisis, were sent to newly facilitated asylum processing centers near Greece's second city of Thessaloniki.
The government has deployed hundreds of police officers to the site, although they claim no force is being used.
“It may look like they’re going for an evacuation, but I don’t know how they’re going to do it,” said Vasilis Tsartsanis, a Greek activist who has been working in the area. “They may be trying to use fear to make refugees leave. But I don’t know who’s going to put his head on the line and order an evacuation [by force].”