A group from the Yazidi minority have been sleeping outside a migrant camp in northern Greece for almost a fortnight. Greek authorities say the facility is full.
Nearly 120 Yazidis – mostly men – have been camped outside the gates of a migrant camp near the northern Greek city of Serres for nearly two weeks pleading to be let in, according to the AFP news agency.
The camp currently houses around 1,000 migrants, including 700 Yazidis. Authorities say it is at capacity and they will only allow entry to women and children.
The Yazidi are a Kurdish-speaking minority in Iraq. Thousands fled when the Islamic State group advanced into the country from Syria in 2014. Yazidi women were targetted for kidnapping, rape and other abuse, including being held as slaves.
Outside the camp on Tuesday 22-year-old Fahad told AFP: "Every day, we beg to be allowed to enter the camp. No one is helping us. We are scared and have nowhere else to go."
The Greek government has been steadily closing down the country’s migrant camps. There are currently 34 operating camps, compared with 121 two years ago. Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said in an interview at the weekend that there were plans to close another two.
A source at the Serres camp confirmed to AFP that it was full. "There are around 60 beds that will be made available to women or children if necessary. But most of those sleeping outside are young men," the source said on condition of anonymity.
Government promises shelter
One of the men, 21-year-old Ibda Adhim, told AFP that members of his group had paid €1,000 each to smugglers in Turkey for help in reaching Greece.
"We walked for five days to get (here)," Adhim said, showing his bruised feet. "We were told to go to another camp where Afghans and Syrians live but we are afraid to go there."
Murad Ismael, co-founder of an international Yazidi organization Yazda, said Tuesday that the Greek migration ministry had assured him that the issue would be addressed as soon as possible.
In a statement to AFP, Ismael said officials had promised to provide shelter either at the city of Serres, or at another camp.