Emergency Appeal operations update Special issue (No. 1) - Europe: Population Movements
A. Situation analysis
Latest developments on 7 March at 15:00 hours
The situation in Greece has deteriorated in the last days as new border restrictions are being imposed causing a major concentration of migrants in Idomeni and Athens. The number of women and children on the migrant routes are increasing and is a major factor to consider in terms of operational needs. It is reported that some 30,000 migrants are now being trapped in Greece.
According to data from UNHCR, from January 2015 to 2 March 2016, a total of 982,889 arrivals have been registered in Greece. As of 2 March 2016 there have been 126,166 arrivals2 in 2016 alone.
Latest information indicate that nearly 12,000 refugees (with daily estimates of 1,000 migrants arriving at Idomeni) are trapped in Idomeni after the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s decision to no longer permit the entry of Afghans in their territory and to impose stricter controls on the Syrians and Iraqis that have the right of passage. Other countries along the Balkan route are also following suit. Since then, there has been tension on the border between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with frustrations growing amidst the uncertainty and lack of information. On 29 February a group of migrants tried to break through the border fence, which resulted in tear gas being fired by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia police.
These new border restrictions have caused a chain effect of sorts in the other locations. Migrants are stranded at entry and exit points, and movement is restricted in an effort to contain the flow, as additional new migrant centres were opened in the north in an effort to manage the situation.The Greek authorities have responded with the military setting up two camps near Idomeni with a projected capacity of 12,500 and a nearby third site already under construction.
The Hellenic Red Cross (HRC) continues to provide health, relief, RFL and community engagement (CEA) services in the islands and in Athens, Idomeni and Diavata. The HRC is also providing health services and distributed hygiene kits, baby kits (and diapers) on a daily basis at one of the new “relocation centers” in Diavata to 2,000 migrants. This centre opened on 25 February.
The centre’s capacity can hold about 4,000 people but at the moment there are about 2,000 migrants there. The management of the centre belongs to the Ministry of Interior and specifically the General Secretariat for Immigration Policy, while the coordination is managed by the Ministry of Defense.
However, at the moment the Greek army is also overwhelmed with the needs and uncertainty of the plans and would therefore need assistance. For instance, the food situation is challenging, and although the military has agreed to fill the gap for the coming days, there is no clear indication given on for how long. HRC will look further into how to support the migrants further in some of these new sites.
The IFRC Regional Office for Europe has mobilized a Development Head of Operations to Greece, and a Field Assessment Coordinating Team (FACT) health alert has been sent out.