A very large refugee camp in Greece, the Idomeni Camp on the border with Macedonia, is being evacuated this week.
The migrants in the camp are being taken to specially designed facilities, and they must travel 50 miles south in order to get there. Riot police moved into the camp in order to begin evacuation, which paints a sinister picture for the refugees, but they promised that force will not be used in removing people from the camp.
Of those evacuated, at least 8,400 people were stranded at the site of the camp, and are currently unable to continue their journey. Most of the refugees left on buses, and children’s entertainers were even hired to wave to the passengers as they left on the buses in order to keep them from being scared. However, a police helicopter was seen circling overhead, and simply having riot police on the scene was enough to create an air of hostility, making it clear that leaving the camp was not optional.
Only selected journalists were allowed on the scene, but it did not seem that Greece was in any way trying to hide the fact that refugees were being evacuated. Apparently many of the refugees had expected this, although they were still reluctant to leave what has become a temporary home. The camp was rough, without much food or many amenities, but most of the people in the camp were from Syria, Afghanistan, or Iraq, and are just happy to be somewhere without a constant threat of violence.
“I prepared my bags. If they didn’t use force, I will stay for a while, but if they use force, I didn’t come here to fight anybody. I will just go. I escaped from Syria because I don’t want to fight anybody,” Rezan, a Syrian refugee, told the BBC.
While this is surely stressful for the residents of the camp, they are being moved further into Greece for processing, rather than being turned away or forced back into their home countries. Hopefully, these individuals will be able to emerge from the refugee system and make better lives for themselves.