ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Greek government said Monday it will set up loudspeakers at the country's border with Macedonia to try and persuade thousands of refugees and migrants to ignore false rumors that the Balkan route to central Europe will reopen.
More than 15,000 people — nearly a third of the total stranded in Greece — are refusing to move to government-built shelters around the country, and remain at the border with Macedonia and at the port of Piraeus, near Athens.
A spokesman for a government refugee crisis committee said authorities were struggling to counter false rumors on social media that borders could reopen.
"People who are under strain and living in difficult conditions are receiving false reports ... when people are desperate, rumors spread like wildfire," Kyritsis told state television.
"We are sending a team of translators (to the border) and loudspeakers will be set up to make public announcements," he said.
Macedonia's parliament, meanwhile, voted Monday to extend the state of emergency in regions bordering Greece and Serbia till the end of the year because of the ongoing migrant crisis.
The vote allows continued deployment of the army along the border with Greece to patrol a recently built fence that lines the frontier.
Over the weekend, Greece's armed forces set up more shelter places at various sites around the country.
The country is struggling to implement an agreement between the European Union and Turkey that would see refugees and migrants sent back to Turkey from Greek islands. However, the deal requires the deployment of hundreds of European migration officers and others for the deal to work.
More than 2,000 people who reached the islands after March 20 have been detained to await deportation and continued their protests Monday on the islands of Chios and Lesbos, where they chanted "we want freedom."
Protests intensified when Public Order Minister Nikos Toskas visited the two sites.
He said the number of migrants arriving in Greece had fallen steadily since March 20.
"It is clear that Turkey can control the situation and it has done so in accordance with the agreement," Toskas said. "It remains to be seen in the coming days whether that will continue.
Konstantin Testorides in Skopje, Macedonia and Nikolia Apostolou in Lesbos, Greece contributed.