About 10.000 people are still stuck in Idomeni. People are given numbers, which are written on the back of their Greek registration papers. The same number is given to about 50 people. Today, several hundreds (~ 500) with numbers around 60 and an ID proving their Syrian or Iraqi nationality were allowed to cross. We talked to one Syrian, who showed us, that he received number 265 today. Due to new arrivals in Idomeni every day, it is therefore not to be expected, that the camp will get empty in the nearer future (if there is no eviction). Somehow it seems, that the border is only kept open for some hundred people every day to avoid a massive uprising, what somehow would be the logical consequence of total hopelessness. But seeing others who are allowed to pass, people still hope, it will be „their time“ sooner or later to pass through the gate to Macedonia. Consequently, the railway tracks are not blocked by protesters anymore, trains are passing trough the camp a few timesa day. The last days the weather during daytime was quite good, but if it will start to rain and get colder again, the camp will turn into hell immediately.
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.