Athens – Greece has increased efforts to move migrants near the border with Macedonia to sheltered camps after a spread of Hepatitis A became a concern among the refugees in the filthy and muddy conditions in which they are.

Near the northern border town of Idomeni, there are at least 12,000 people, thousands of children included, waiting to cross the frontier even though Macedonia and other nations along the Western Balkan route have closed their borders, as reported by Reuters.

Leaflets were handed by Greek authorities to inform people that the route they are hoping for has been shut. The pamphlets urged the migrants to move to buildings and hospitality centers across Greece that have been set aside for the purpose, according to a government official from the country’s refugee crisis management coordination body.

Syrian refugees walk by the sea moments after arriving in Greece. Credit: Reuters / Vocativ
Syrian refugees walk by the sea moments after arriving in Greece. Credit: Reuters / Vocativ

“Our aim is not only to relieve Idomeni from the people, our aim is that no Idomeni camp even exists anymore. There are structures, why should people stay in the mud?” he said. The information is being spread in possible routes to Idomeni to avoid people from going to the unsanitary location.

About 400 people were moved from Idomeni to camps on Friday, the numbers are expected to increase in the coming days, said Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas, in charge of coordinating Greek efforts to tackle the refugee crisis.

Many of the people in Idomeni are waiting for a decision by the EU expected to be discussed on March 17. Greek authorities said that they are, regardless of the decision, offering them shelter camps very close by, added Vitsas to Greek Mega television.

Risk of infection

The conditions in the Idomeni camp, which are filthy and overcrowded, have raised the risk of infections. On Friday, a nine-year-old Syrian girl was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, Greece’s disease control agency said.

Hepatitis A is a virus transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through direct contact with an infectious person, according to the World Health Organization. It is normally associated with lack of safe water or poor sanitation, which can both be found in the squalid camp.

The girl is being treated and is in a stable condition, the agency said. Measures to prevent an outbreak are being taken by greek authorities in the Idomeni camp.

Source: Reuters