Greek police on Friday used tear gas to disperse some 500 mainly Middle Eastern refugees and migrants, including families with women and children, who gathered outside the Diavata refugee reception camp close to Thessaloniki in northern Greece in the hope of crossing the border with North Macedonia.
Police for a second day prevented them from reaching the highway that leads to the North Macedonia border. No injuries or arrests have been reported thus far.
Police remain outside the camp where the refugees and migrants have gathered since Thursday, following a call on social media to head to the border under the fake claim that the border would soon be reopened to migrants.
At the same time, some 500 refugees also occupied the main train station in Athens, in the hope of boarding a train for Thessaloniki and reaching the border. However, they were also not allowed to do so.
“We are closely following the situation,” the North Macedonian Interior Ministry said on Friday. “The information being spread about reopening the [Balkan] route for migrants [to the West] is false, and we urge people not to fall for such misinformation.”
Previously, the European Commission said it was closely monitoring the situation in Greece.
Several hundred thousand migrants, mainly from the Middle East and North Africa, poured across the border in 2015 and 2016, heading towards Western Europe.
It was then effectively shut down in a coordinated effort to curb the flow of people into Central and Western Europe.
As a result of arrangements to curb the flow to Western Europe of refugees and migrants, more than 70,000 asylum seekers are effectively trapped in Greece, unable to move on.