Where are the refugees from idomeni?

UNHCR is concerned, the Greek government reacts offended

Already in ancient Greece, the image of the many-headed Hydra had to be used when one wanted to make clear to someone that by trying to solve a problem, he had only caused more trouble. For every head of the mythical monster that was cut off, four more grew back. It pays to the twelve heroic deeds of Heracles to have completely decapitated the Hydra in battle and thus to have hunted it down.

The evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp, completed ahead of schedule yesterday, was hailed as such a Herculean task by the government in Athens. It reported to have shipped 3817 people from Idomeni to other camps. In addition, it hewn, Idomeni is now completely cleared. But where did the other inhabitants of the camp go?? For until a week ago, more than 11.000 people regularly in the wild camp at the border. At the beginning of the previously announced evacuation, the authorities paid 8199 people.

Idomeni in March. Image: W. Aswestopoulos

The answer is simple. Before the eviction, according to information from opposition politician Kostas Gioulekas, who comes from northern Greece, almost 4,000 refugees and immigrants had fled into the surrounding countryside for fear of the state-run camps, which were considered concentration camps. The figure coincides with the official statistics of the daily payment. Reporters have also recorded that at one gas station alone, the last before the border, there are now about 2000 camped refugees and migrants. There are now almost as many people in front of the Hotel Chara across the street. There are considerably more in both places than there were before the space was created.

Critics therefore now speak of a government fiasco, which instead of one eyesore, Idomeni, now has several as a result. Meanwhile, the area of the cleared warehouse is being repaired with bulldozers. Workers of the state railroad company OSE have started repairing the tracks. The government can consider the opening of the railroad line after more than 70 days a real success.

Satisfied with the work of his police officers, Castle Protection Minister Nikos Toskas gave a press conference at the scene on Thursday. In the future, the state and not the aid organization would set the tone for the refugee ie, he said. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, of all people, criticizes the fact that this is sufficient. The UNHCR buried the evacuation of Idomeni, but urged the Greek government to seek alternative accommodation other than that now offered. The UNHCR reports about unbearable conditions in the new, but also in older, now overcrowded with people from Idomeni alternative camps.

On the part of the Greek government, Giorgos Kyritisis, spokesman for the government’s Commission for Refugees, sent a sharp note of protest to accredited journalists in response to the UN agency’s public rude. He complained that the UNHCR did not sufficiently acknowledge the performance of the Greek government. The Refugee Agency should rather approach the government with concrete proposals and energetic help, he said.