Evacuating a Greek Refugee Camp

Activists wave Tuesday to a bus transferring migrants to an organized camp during an operation to evacuate the makeshift refugee camp at Idomeni, Greece.Giannis Papanikos / AP

Greek authorities have begun an operation to evacuate the irregular Idomeni camp near the border with Macedonia that houses more than 8,000 people.

More than 400 riot police have been sent to the camp that is home to migrants and refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Greek authorities insist force will not be used to empty the camp. The AP adds:

In recent weeks, the camp had begun taking on an image of semi-permanence, with refugees setting up small makeshift shops selling everything from cooking utensils to falafel and bread.

The BBC reported that at least four busloads of migrants and refugees were seen leaving the camp Tuesday.

Greece wants to move the camp’s residents to new asylum-processing facilities in Thessaloniki. The migrants and refugees have been stranded in Idomeni, a border village, ever since Macedonia closed its border with Greece in March. The camp sprang up shortly after that, and, at its peak, it housed more than 14,000 people.

The operation is expected to take 10 days.