Greece Won’t Use Force to Move Thousands of Migrants Stuck in Squalid Camp

Thanasis Gavos   Fri, 11 Mar 2016; 10:58

Their influx has spiked again this week despite Turkey’s pledge to stop their boats, a senior official in Athens tells TIME.

Although the sprawling refugee camp on the Greek border with Macedonia is quickly turning into a humanitarian nightmare—with around 12,000 migrants refusing to leave until the border, on Wednesday, reopens—the Greek authorities have ruled out the use of force in trying to deport them or move them to organized shelters, the government official coordinating Greece’s response to the refugee crisis says in an exclusive interview with TIME.

“The only plan is to persuade them,” says Dimitris Vitsas, the Alternate Minister of Defense, speaking in his office in Athens. “There is no plan of violence. We will not use force.”

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