17.00: At the gas station nothing has changed. Still thousands stranded on a parking lot. Many small fires to keep a little bit warm. Nobody knows for how long they will have to wait here. Miserable Conditions and strong and cold winds are creating a postapokalyptic landscape. But people are resisting and the atmosphere is less tense than the last days.
15:00: ‚Only‘ about 10 buses are waiting in front of the camp in Eidomeni. Groups of 100 are allowed to cross to Macedonia/Fyrom. We don’t know yet the frequency of these crossings. Police presence has increased, also volunteers and independent people are now questioned and regulated more by them.
10.00: After hours and days of waiting in miserable conditions without any information, yesterday 500 migrants block the highway. Police cleared the highway straight away. Thousands of migrants are stuck at the gas station for days now. Some can sleep inside the buses, some cannot as some buses are locked. MSF is providing most of the infrastructure, but there is a general lack of basically everything. Last night it is very wind and rain started, temperatures are very low. Most people have been here for three days. Some report to us that they have even already had to wait for more than 10 hours at another gas station in the „middle of nowhere“ somewhere on the side of a highway between Athens and Thessaloniki. There are many children, pregnant women, injured and old people.
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.