Authorities in Greece hope an overcrowded refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border can be emptied within two weeks, as people are slowly persuaded to move to nearby government-built shelters.
Nikos Toskas, a deputy minister for public order, ruled out using force to move the 14,000 people camped out at the border near the village of Idomeni in increasingly desperate conditions.
‘We have to persuade them (to move) and we can’t do that using tear gas. Half the people there are women and children,’ Toskas told private Mega television. Authorities say about 800 people have agreed so far to leave the camp, but more arrive daily.
Macedonia closed its borders to all migrants and refugees this week after several Balkan countries and Austria began imposing restrictions in February.
Meanwhile, around 650 migrants have arrived in the main port of Athens from islands in the eastern Aegean Sea.
They continue to take the dangerous sea route despite the route into northern Europe remaining closed.
The had arrived from Lesbos and Chios.Some could be seen leaving the port on foot while others made for the passenger terminals, which more than 3,000 people are currently using as a shelter.