Greece to employ loudspeakers at border after rumour chaos

Migrants behind the fence at the Macedonian-Greek border on March 27, 2016, where thousands are stranded by the Balkan border blockade (AFP)

Greece said Monday it would make use of loudspeakers at a migrants’ camp on the Macedonia frontier to dispel “irresponsible rumours” that the border is about to reopen.

“We are trying to step up efforts to address refugees and migrants in their own language and without an intermediary,” said Giorgos Kyritsis, spokesman for the government’s coordination panel on the migration.

Additional interpreters would be sent to the camp and a loudspeaker system – currently operated by the UN refugee agency – would be employed to make official announcements, he said.

On Sunday, several hundred migrants, including people in wheelchairs or carrying babies, dashed for the border following rumours it would be opened.

Greek police and other migrants helped to calm the situation.

The commotion appeared to be triggered by a rumour that journalists and Red Cross officials would help migrants force their way across the fence, a young Syrian refugee told the Athens News Agency (ANA).

The rush came two weeks after hundreds marched from Idomeni towards the Macedonian border, even crossing a surging river to do so, before they were stopped by Macedonian troops.

Kyritsis, interviewed on the News247 website, condemned “irresponsible rumours and disinformation” that “spread like wildfire... among people who are under pressure and living in very difficult conditions”.

More than 50,000 migrants are stranded in Greece after other European countries sealed off the so-called Balkan trail. Many are Syrians fleeing war. Over 11,000 of them are currently camped around Idomeni.

The trail leads from Greece – the landing point for hundreds of thousands of people coming from Turkey – to northern Europe where many have relatives or seek a better future.

The human influx has eased since an agreement between European Union (EU) and Turkey went into effect on March 20 for returning any migrants who reach Greece.

A total of 1,331 have arrived since March 21, the day after the accord took effect, according to official figures.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48
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