More than 20,000 Mideast war refugees and irregular migrants are now stranded in Greece, while numbers at the Idomeni border crossing with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are growing alarmingly and reception facilities are reaching capacity, the migration policy ministry reported on Friday.
The reception centres in the greater Athens were filled to overflowing, the ministry said, with 2,000 people currently staying at a camp set up the former Olympic facilities in the coastal Elliniko, 1,200 at a centre in downtown Athens, 1,200 in Schisto port site and 1,150 waiting at the port of Piraeus. Similarly, 2,000 had filled a new reception centre at Diavata, Thessaloniki, in northern Greece.
Large numbers of third country nationals have started congregating at the border crossing at Idomeni after fYRoM authorities slowed the passage of registered refugees entering to roughly 50 an hour earlier this week. There were 4,000 people waiting at a temporary camp at Idomeni, where there was no free space, and another 1,500 at a petrol station in the border town of Polykastro. Meanwhile, dozens of third country nationals continued arriving on foot even though authorities of the neighboring country did not allow anyone to legally enter their territory until the afternoon.
At the same time, refugees and irregular migrants continued to arrive on various eastern Aegean islands. There were 482 in Rhodes, Kastellorizo, Leros and Kos, a further 1,766 people waiting to depart for the mainland at the hotspot and camp in Lesvos and 498 awaiting registration on Chios. Roughly 1,000 are expected to leave Lesvos and Chios for Piraeus on the ferry 'Blue Star 1' on Friday night.