The Alternate Minister of Migration Policy Yannis Mouzalas estimated that the border crossing at Idomeni must be considered closed, given FYROM’s refusal to reopen it.

Mr. Mouzalas attended a meeting of the central union of municipalities (KEDE) and argued that the FYROM has kept its borders closed in spite of appeals from the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament president Martin Schulz and even Pope Francis.

We must consider the border at Idomeni closed. We are preparing for the consequences. For some time, some [refugees] will remain in Greece. At first we will look into their temporary accommodation and later make improve the living conditions for refugees and transfer those who are not entitled to asylum to closed areas and return them to their counties” he explained.

Furthermore the Alternate Minister stressed that the municipalities must participate in the accommodation of refugees. The mayors from Crete stated that they are preparing their accommodation plans to submit to the government, while the mayors of Trikala and Karditsa claim they have already made preparations.

Although the initial government plan was to establish such areas along the Athens-Idomeni route, it is now also seeking out suitable spaces in Epirus, following the closure of the border at Idomeni.

KEDE president Giorgos Patoulis underlined the need for a national plan to address the refugee crisis. As such, the mayors asked for and agree with Mr. Mouzalas to establish a coordinating body to manage the available areas and resources.

Officially there are 1,141 refugees at the Schisto center, 748 at Eleonas, 1,470 at Elliniko, 2,071 at Diavata, 2,581 at Cherso and 2,282 at Nea Kavala, about 10,000 more at Idomeni, while many more continue to arrive from Turkey and seek shelter on squares and open spaces in Athens and Piraeus.