Evacuation operation underway at Pieria refugee camp due to harsh weather conditions

An ongoing evacuation effort was underway on Wednesday to remove refugees and migrants staying at the Petra camp in Pieria, due to the very harsh prevailing weather conditions, and take them to alternative accommodation.

Katerini municipal councillor Nikos Papaziogas told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) that some 240 residents of the original 1,200 were still at the camp and would be transferred to another reception centre in Volvi. Those that could not be moved to Volvi on Wednesday would spend the night in Katerini, he said.

“Conditions are very difficult due to the weather. Since yesterday, 240 people are in the snow. We transferred them to nearby buildings of the old Petra mental hospital and put in heaters, while the region was cut off by snow overnight. We sent a snow plough up in the morning to clear the road and then gave permission to three coaches to go there and pick people up,” he explained.

Papaziogas said the municipality had warned authorities that the specific location was unsuitable for a camp and often inaccessible due to snow, noting that the last 240 remaining camp residents had included 80 children, even babies.

Complaints about inadequate facilities and worsening conditions at camps were also voiced by mayors in the Thessaloniki area, which hosts a number of refugee and migrant reception centres.