The extended area around Idomeni is turning into a zone of state racism and repression. The people from the camp are no longer alowed to enter the village of Idomeni. For security reasons, according to officials. De facto it deprives the stranded people of ressources, their last possibility to be self-sustaining: Buying food or SIM cards, withdrawing money or staying at a hotel for a night is not possible anymore. Furthermore Taxi drivers are no longer allowed to take migrants from the villages to the camp. It makes their daily struggle at the border harder. Degrading supply conditions in the camp appear to be the strategy of the authorities to empty the camp. Creating harsh, inhumane conditions to make people leave.
Another feature of this deprivation of rights has emerged tonight: Greek police is stopping the arriving buses 5 km before the camp and separates the people who are allowed to travel on from those who are not. They are kicked out of the buses and left on the highway in the cold night. One bystanding responsible cop commented: „They are not people, they are ghosts.“
A group of people were returned today from Macedonia: They crossed the green border and were caught by the Macedonian police. They were told to sit down on the ground. Then the police started beating them with sticks, targeting their knees willingly.
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.