19.00: Another freezing cold night is waiting for the hundreds of people at Idomeni, among them many children. The day was quite calm, the thread of eviction being in the atmosphere. Still the conditions in the camp are miserable: Lack of food, water, warm equipment and of course, lack of any perspective. But anyways, people are preparing for new ways and new solutions. „Tigers Don’t change their ways because of dogs barking“, one person announced today. We will report tomorrow again.
14.00: The situation is calm, until now it doesn’t look like an eviction will happen today. Furthermore, FRONTEX’s office- container is still empty and there is no sign of their presence. The UNHCR believes that still 2000 to 2500 people are staying here at the moment. In the last hours no new people have arrived, so there is no one waiting in front of the border. In the morning again several small protests against the arbitrary separation took place. We met people who went to Athens and already came back here – they declared that here the situation was better. In Athens they had been in a stadium with 2000 people, no food, nothing. The chapter Idomeni is not closed yet.
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.