Health experts sent to Idomeni, as gov’t says it won’t evacuate camp

8 March 2016
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Disease control experts have been sent to a refugee camp at the Greek border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), but Greece’s Health Ministry says the measure is largely precautionary.

The government says two mobile units from the state-run Center for Disease Control and Prevention began operating Tuesday at the border camp in Idomeni, where some 14,000 people are camped out despite Balkan border closures.

“There is a large number of children and young women and pregnant women that require attention,” said Yiannis Baskozos, general secretary of the Health Ministry.

“At this time we do not have any cases of concern (of disease outbreak). There is always that danger and we are monitoring this possibility. But there is no reason to panic,” he said.

The announcement came after the government said it has no plans to forcibly evacuate the refugee camp, but will pressure migrants to use newly built shelters in nearby areas.

Giorgos Kyritsis, a spokesman for an emergency government committee set up last week to deal with the migrant crisis, said authorities were concerned that more people would try to reach the sprawling border camp at Idomeni after European Union leaders and Turkey reached an outline agreement which would close the border. It could be finalized at a summit on March 17.

“So in this time gap, it is understandable that people will want to try to change the facts on the grounds and to go to (Idomeni) and to be at the border … when a decision is made,” he told state TV.

The government says it will have 16,000 additional places ready at camps and shelters by the end of the week, expanding to eight new sites around Greece.

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