Today, as usually is the case on Sundays, a lot of locals came by the camp to distribute donations to the people in there. With the sun shining, the atmosphere in the camp seemed calm and relaxed. But the nights are still freezing cold and hygienic conditions are deteriorating.
Meanwhile, reports and rumours of further restrictions are spreading. The Associated Press reported that Damascus and Baghdad have been declared ‘safe cities’ by Macedonian authorities. According to this information, people from these places are no longer allowed to pass into FYROM/Macedonia. If this measure were to be implemented, it will cause further thousands of people to be stranded in Greece. They will be stuck or have no choice but to turn to smugglers.
Fears are arising that the corridor will close completely after tomorrow’s EU summit in Brussels. Many await a change in the current ‘stuck’ situation – but hopes that the border will reopen again, are not running high.
Moving Europe in collaboration with the Travelling Bureau have produced a report on the brutal revenge against protesters conducted by the Macedonian border authorities. A leader of the recent refugee protests in Idomeni was brutally beaten after having crossed the border legally and was subsequently pushed back to Greece. He is still in hospital where his severe injuries are being treated. Read the full report here: http://moving-europe.org/2016/03/06/brutal-revenge-against-protesters/
We denounce these acts of profound violence and intimidation conducted by border authorities and the violence of the border regime itself.
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.