After the Greek government successfully cleared 8,000 migrants from the Idomeni camp, half of them have gone missing.
The notorious Idomeni migrant camp, that has been the subject of attempted border crossings, riots and even deaths, was finally cleared as of Thursday morning. The Greek government had plans to relocate the estimated 8,000 migrants living in the make-shift camp for weeks, and used a combination of military and police personnel to clear the site.
The authorities had scheduled three to ten days for the operation but were surprised at the quick pace of the evacuation. The reason for the swiftness, police have found, may be because half of the migrants are missing Zeit reports.
The evacuation began on Tuesday after a week of riots, and by Wednesday the buses that were used to transport the migrants to a camp in Thessaloniki were empty due to a lack of migrants. A police spokesman told media that they could only account for 3,500 migrants in the new military supervised camp in Thessaloniki, meaning that at least 4,000 migrants had packed up before buses arrived and had fled the site.
Authorities now have the task of trying to locate the missing migrants but the problem they face is that the Idomeni camp was makeshift. There were no walls, no points of entry and migrants could really come and go as the pleased.
Reports have emerged that several men from North African countries fled to the nearby woods and are hiding out there. Police say the men may be dangerous and have not had any problems confronting them in the past. They say it is likely the men are trying to find a way across the fortified Macedonian border to continue their journey to western Europe.
Migrants considered less “hard core” have moved along the road to the new camp, setting up their tents outside of gas stations and hotels along the side of the road. Authorities say that the access to water, electricity and toilets has made the areas into hubs for migrants who may even be able to access the internet.
Owners of the hotels and gas stations have allowed the migrants access to various facilities for cash and may be seeing some profit from it.
On Tuesday morning a nearby BP gas station was empty with minimal activity, but now it has turned into a small migrant camp on its own with over two dozen tents set up so far in it’s parking area.
The migrants at the new camp are also accompanied by the “refugee helpers” who have stirred controversy by handing migrants bolt cutters, leading them on deadly attempts to cross the borders and riling them up with false rumours.
One new rumour that has come from the helpers is that the government will soon crack down and imprison migrants in the new gas station camp. So far police have not moved the migrants but it hasn’t stopped the open borders activists from organizing a protest and blocking traffic. They have the migrants hold signs that say to passing motorists and others: “Europe does not care if you suffer.”