A Greek police operation was underway on Friday to peacefully evacuate about 500 refugees and migrants from the Athens old airport of Hellenikon, Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Over the past two weeks officials of Greece’s Migration Policy ministry had been briefing the remaining residents of the makeshift camp on the new state- run facilities where they will be hosted near the Greek capital.

On Friday the refugees and migrants were bused to shelters at Oinofyta, Theves and Derveni, some 60-150 kilometers far from Athens.

About 2,000 people had sought shelter at Hellenikon abandoned airport’s arrival and departure halls in the spring of 2016, after the closure of the Balkan route to central Europe.

Many gradually moved over the past year to state-run accommodation centers elsewhere, but despite the poor living conditions which fuelled tensions inside the makeshift camp, some refugees and migrants were reluctant to leave the site.

Petros Konstantinou, head of a Greek NGO, which had been assisting them, told AMNA that until Thursday evening around 25 families opposed their transfer, because they want to stay in Athens.

Approximately 62,000 refugees and migrants currently remain stranded throughout Greece, according to the latest official count of the Greek Migration Policy ministry.

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