ATHENS – Train services, including the Proastiakos suburban railway, were interrupted on Friday as refugees and migrants occupied the railway track at Larissis station in Athens.
Ticket issue has been also suspended until further notice.
TRAINOSE asks for its clients understanding for the inconvience.
Refugees still camped at Diavata, threaten to make for border
A group of about 500 refugees, including families with small children, were camped outside the Diavata refugee reception facility on Friday morning, having spent the night in tents camped outside the facility in the former Anagnostopoulou army base, lighting fires to keep warm.
Fed up with being detained in Greece two years or longer in detention centers and camps, more than 200 migrants battled with riot police who kept them from storming through a fence into the newly-named North Macedonia.
They were part of a group of some 500, including families, who wanted to go to other European Union countries which closed their borders to them and reneged on promises to help Greece, which is housing more than 70,000, including 15,000 on islands near Turkey.
Those who gathered were hoping to use a route that was shut down more than two years ago as the EU and Turkey signed a swap deal that has slowed the numbers coming to Greek islands but seen Turkey take back only a relative few in return.
Following anonymous calls on social media calling on them to try to take the risky trek out of Greece and through heavily-guarded Balkan borders which don’t want them, the migrants and families assembled in a cornfield outside the Diavata migrant camp, which is around 10 kilometers (6 miles) west of the city of Thessaloniki.
Some set up tents as dozens more approached on foot. Some threw stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. No injuries or arrests were reported.
The migrants have been waiting for asylum applications to be processed and there has been frequent violence in detention centers and camps, between ethnic groups and with police with human rights groups and activists blistering conditions and blaming the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for doing too little.
The migrants said they planned to go to the fenced-off border with North Macedonia 60 kilometers (38 miles) away and try to push through. In early 2016, a similar route was firmly shut down after more than a million people flowed through Greece and the Balkans to Germany and other countries.
The United Nations refugee agency has denounced the social media calls, stressing that irregular border crossings are “risky and dangerous.” In a statement warning of “false information and social media rumors,” UNHCR said it does not encourage or support “irregular movements,” and noted that states have the right to manage their borders.
“In addition to potential unwanted legal consequences, participants in these movements may end up in dire humanitarian conditions, including being left without adequate shelter, food and other basic services,” UNHCR said. “Please do not endanger your lives and the lives of your family members and children.”
Giving up on Greece and frustrated with the long delays in the camps and centers, people gathering outside the congested Diavata camp said they would try their luck at the border.
“We face very many problems in Greece,” Iraqi Kurd Darya Wus, 35, told The Associated Press. “They give us very little money. We have no future (in Greece). My asylum hearing has been set for 2021.”
He said migrants would try to get through the border with North Macedonia, despite likely opposition by police in both countries. “We will try to talk them into letting us go on to Europe,” he said.
Sajjad Hamid, 27, an Iraqi from Baghdad who has been in Greece for 15 months after entering illegally from Turkey, was planning to spend the night in a tent with his four young children. They had traveled north by bus from the central town of Halkida, where they lived in a hotel room provided by an NGO.
“We refugees are tired,” he said. “We want to leave. There is nothing for us to do here.”
Tsipras had said he was “proud” of conditions at the centers and camps although the BBC called one on the island of Lesbos “the worst in the world.”
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)