Three months after the evacuation of thousands of refugees and migrants from a makeshift camp on Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), authorities say there has been a noticeable spike in attempts by people to cross illegally into the neighboring country.
“They come by train to the village of Mouries and try to cross over, through woods and along the shores of Doirani Lake,” a police officer told Kathimerini, citing areas that are coming under increasing pressure. “Others try to [cross the border] outside the village of Hamilo, near Idomeni.”
Authorities have also noted a rise in the number of refugees and migrants leaving camps and heading out alone or in groups to try to breach the border, fed up with long delays in the asylum processing system. They are concerned that reports of successful attempts could stoke mass departures from organized facilities.
Frustration on Thursday fueled protests by migrants around the country, particularly in northern Greece. In Kilkis, hundreds of Syrians and Iraqis from the Hersos camp clashed with police while trying to block a highway leading to the border. Another group of protesters held a rally in downtown Thessaloniki, demanding open borders.
Speaking to the Guardian on Wednesday, meanwhile, Vincent Cochetel, director of the UN Refugee Agency’s Europe Bureau, said that deportations of migrants arriving from Turkey have stopped due to the recent withdrawal of Turkish liaison officers the Greek islands. “De facto some aspects of the [EU-Ankara] deal are suspended,” he said.