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Police Are Evicting Refugees From Europe’s Largest Makeshift Camp

Officers will remove about 8,000 refugees from the camp at Idomeni on the Greece–Macedonia border over the next 10 days, sending them to other processing facilities.

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Many of the refugees have been camped in the makeshift tent city for months.

Robert Atanasovski / AFP / Getty Images

In March, when Macedonia closed its borders, more than 15,000 refugees were estimated to be living in the camp. Many of them have since been moved to other official sites across Greece.

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Some refugee charities have welcomed the closure of the camp because of the deteriorating conditions.

International Rescue Committee (IRC) protection co-ordinator for Greece Kiryn Lanning told BuzzFeed News reports of sexual and domestic abuse at the camp had increased in recent weeks.

"We've been very concerned about the safety of women and children at the site recently. There has been an increase in violence as frustrations have been high and tensions growing," Lanning said.

"We have teams waiting at the new facilities to provide protection programs to women and children."

Volunteers, international media and aid groups were barred from entering the camps by police on Tuesday, Lanning said.

POOL New / Reuters

"It is concerning to us that we aren't being allowed to witness the evacuation. But all reports we have had say it is going smoothly and peacefully. Many refugees are welcoming the evacuation, the next few days will show whether than continues."

Other aid agencies at the camp also reported the evacuation was taking place peacefully so far.

In a statement Save the Children team leader Amy Frost said the evacuation needed to be managed sensitively.

Yannis Kolesidis / AFP / Getty Images

"Authorities managing the relocation process need to take into consideration what’s in the best interest of each family or child – which is easier said than done in a process where groups of vulnerable people are being relocated en masse," Frost said.

“Many of the children, especially lone children, have been through enough trauma already, either back home, along the journey or where they’ve been staying for weeks in transit facilities lacking basic services."

She said the charity was also concerned about the limited services, such as bathrooms and youth-safe spaces, at the new centers.

Most of the refugees will be taken to specially designed processing camps about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south, near Thessaloniki, the BBC reported.

POOL New / Reuters

Media at the scene said as many as 10 buses left the camp early Tuesday morning.

Most of the refugees in the camp, who include hundreds of children, have come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

Tobias Schwarz / AFP / Getty Images

In Idomeni, most people have been living in camping tents pitched alongside the nearby railway tracks.

Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alicia Melville-Smith at alicia.melville-smith@buzzfeed.com.

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