Greece stepped up efforts to move thousands of refugees from near its border with Macedonia to other camps after two people were diagnosed with Hepatitis A, according to reports Saturday.
Nearly 12,000 refugees are currently staying at a temporary tent city near the northern border town of Idomeni, waiting to cross in to Europe from Macedonia, although many countries along the so-called Western Balkan route have closed their borders, Reuters reported. The border closures have left refugees stranded in increasingly squalid conditions without adequate food and water supply, with many forced to sleep outside amid frequent rains and low temperatures.
The overcrowded conditions at the camp have given rise to infections. A nine-year-old Syrian girl was reportedly diagnosed with Hepatitis A on Friday, according to Greece's disease control agency, while another individual was diagnosed for the disease and sent to a hospital for treatment on Saturday.
Hepatitis A, formerly known as infectious hepatitis, is an acute disease of the liver. Local authorities have been implementing measures to counter the spread of diseases such as spreading awareness on hygiene, disinfection of lavatories and providing safe drinking water.
On Saturday, Greek authorities reportedly handed out leaflets in Idomeni urging refugees to move to buildings and hospitality centers across Greece.
"Greece will offer you accommodation, food and healthcare," the leaflets that were written in Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun, reportedly read.
"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?" a government official from the country's refugee crisis management coordination body told Reuters.
However, refugees have stayed put in Idomeni waiting for a decision by the European Union to open the border. EU leaders and Turkey are due to meet again on Thursday and Friday to discuss border controls.
About 400 people were moved from Idomeni to camps on Friday and the number would increase in the coming days, Greece’s Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas told local media, adding that “regardless of this decision [at the EU Summit that is scheduled for March 17], there are three camps very close [to shelter them].”