22.00: A lot of coaches carrying migrants from the islands are waiting for many hours at petrol stations along the highway to Idomeni. Greek authorities seem to engage more and more in regulating the access to the Macedonian border. In Idomeni the border zone and the transit process is now totally under police control. We will continue to report tomorrow.
18.00: Today activists squatted a house in Thessaloniki to create a safe and dignified space for returning migrants from Idomeni (see here)
17.00: UNHCR and Police drive around the camp and tell people to return to Athens as there is a free train waiting at the station. For now only 70 have entered. Others are determined to stay: „I will be the last person here“, shared one migrant with us. One UNHCR person declares that the railway tracks will be cleared tomorrow. The border has been closed for three hours and is open again now. Around 600 people are queuing in front of it.
12.30: We just met people who were on a free bus to Athens which was then stopped and returned to Eidomeni by the Police. They have to buy tickets for 20 Euro now. For people who are stuck here without money this creates a paradox in the state logic once more: they are told to leave but can’t afford it. There is no western union or bank close by. The people here have a very simple solution: „If they want us to go away from here there is a very good solution: open the border!“
9:30: Approximately 20 coaches arrived during the night. These people had to wait at the buses. Others queued in front of the border the whole night. This morning Creek Police spread leaflets in different languages again to those ones camping on the rail tracks, stating that they have to leave within three days.
On the 18th of November 2015, Slovenia closed its borders for refugees who are not from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. Just a little later, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia also adopted this practice of segregation. There is little doubt about that this policy was pushed by the European Union as a starting point for slowing down or even stopping the flow over the Balkan route. Thousands of refugees were stuck in Eidomeni, Greece, and started to protest. The Moving Europe Bus was on the spot and reported live from the 22nd of November to the 11th of December 2015 – when the camp had been evicted. On the 5th of February 2016, we decided to restart our live-ticker as the new year has already seen several attempts from the European Union to slow down the migration movement towards Europe. Macedonia seems to become a key player in this strategy. For several weeks the Macedonian border authorities have slowed down the transit process. The predictable effect of this, given the high arrival numbers to the Greek islands, is that thousands are becoming stuck in Greece. On the 3th of February the Macedonian government announced its plans to strengthen border controls which will further reduce the speed of the transit process. In the meantime, the Greek authorities have established a new buffer zone near to Eidomeni. Since the camp at the border has already become highly overcrowded, there are fears that the violent scenes of last December in Eidomeni will be repeated. Therefore the authorities have decided that people should be kept at bay, at a gas station on the highway that is 20 km far away from the border (at Polykastro). For weeks migrants have had to stay there for hours under miserable conditions. Since the end of January the situation at the Greek border zone has escalated once more. There is only a trickle of people being let through to Macedonia and now people at the gas station have to wait for days before their buses finally leave towards the border. On the 3rd of February 2016 thousands of them decided not to wait any longer at the petrol station and started to walk towards the Macedonian border (#marchofhope 2). Further protests and tensions are to be expected. The Moving Europe Bus is on the spot since the 2nd of February and reports live from Polykastro and Eidomeni.