The Greek area of Idomeni, which lies along the border with North Macedonia, is again becoming a hotspot for migrants looking to travel the Balkan route to Western Europe.
Idomeni had seen as many as 8,000 migrants gather to cross the border into North Macedonia in 2016, following the height of the migrant crisis in 2015. Reports now claim the number of migrants is increasing rapidly once again.
The North Macedonian authorities are said to have returned as many as 300 migrants to Greece on Tuesday alone after they attempted to cross into the country illegally, Greek newspaper Proto Thema reports.
Violence has also been seen in the area of the old Idomeni migrant camp in recent days, as well. According to the newspaper, groups of mainly Afghan and Pakistani migrants were involved in bloody clashes on Monday.
Police presence is said to be nearly non-existent, as the three police vehicles used to patrol the area have been diverted to tackling Wuhan coronavirus violations, instead.
“We have a problem again, especially now that we don’t have police cars. They come to Idomeni by train and on foot and wait hidden in the fields for the opportunity to cross the fence,” a local community leader said.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 20, 2016
“Many of the people who have been in the area for days have started to go hungry, resulting in constant thefts. They break into houses, sit in the vineyards, and throw stones at the owners while trying to break through the fence to cross into the other country,” the community leader added.
In 2016, the Idomeni area saw thousands of migrants camp and make an attempt to break through the border into North Macedonia, often aided by pro-migrant activists.
In March of that year, pro-migrant activists attempted to lead asylum seekers across a nearby swollen river, resulting in three migrants dying while trying to cross. Media had reported at the time that migrants were given maps before the march on the border that had falsely claimed the river was dry.