Red Cross activities continue after Idomeni protests

Published: 11 April 2016 22:22 CET

Red Cross teams are still supporting migrants stranded in Idomeni, near Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the day after the authorities used tear gas and stun grenades to control a series of protests where hundreds of people tried to cross the border.

More than 11,000 people have been stranded in Idomeni for up to 50 days in extremely poor conditions and under severe psychological strain. Yesterday, 10 April, tensions flared up into violent protests, which were met with the use of tear gas and stun grenades by the authorities. The Hungarian Red Cross medical team present onsite treated patients suffering from respiratory difficulties and cuts.

John English, head of operations for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said: “We are very concerned about the physical and psychological wellbeing of the people, most of whom are women and children, who are living in uncertainty of what their future holds.”

Red Cross facilities were damaged during the protests, and staff members were withdrawn for safety reasons. Despite this, the Hellenic Red Cross has resumed its activities on site today.

“We had to make the decision to evacuate to ensure the safety of our staff, which is always our top priority,” said Mr. English. “Protesters damaged our medical tent and managed to loot all the equipment in our child-friendly space. However, after assessing the situation early this morning, we decided that our activities, including health care, will resume today as the situation has calmed down.  We will continue to respond to the humanitarian needs in Idomeni and elsewhere in the country as long as needed.”

The IFRC calls on authorities on all sides to take all possible steps to ensure the safety and well-being of the vulnerable persons gathered in Idomeni.  It calls on all actors to respect the humanitarian mission of the Hellenic Red Cross.