Some impressions of today, we will continue reporting tomorrow.
17:00: Situation calm. The border area has ceased to be a completely police-controlled territory. Now people are setting up tents here. The camp is completely overcrowded as the border is closed and many SI people cannot pass as they don’t have passports. Reportedly, Polykastro gas station is nearly empty because most people left on foot earlier in the day and buses are said not to be allowed to leave Athens. Meanwhile, reports reached us from Piraeus port that the people waiting there are staging protests and blocking the roads.
16:00: Macedonia deploys a tank behind its fence. This is what European Union and its partners‘ politics look like.
15.30: More Greek police has arrived. Situation static for now.
15:15: Dozens have destroyed the Greek fence protecting the railway tracks.
15:00: Macedonia has deployed more riot police behind its fence.
14:30: Hundreds of Afghanis have broken through a police chain and are squatting the immediate border area.
14.00: Protests of the Afghans stuck and separated in Idomeni camp have arisen.
12:00: Tired of waiting several days at the gas station, hundreds decided to walk on the highway towards Idomeni. It is a 20km walk. Among them many families, 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.